Wood may sound like the wrong choice of material to replace the glass in your windows, but a team of researchers just proved the contrary.
A group of scientists at the USDA, together with several other institutions, has developed “transparent wood,” a glass-like material made almost entirely out of trees that they claim is stronger, safer, more cost-efficient, and thermally efficient more than glass.
As Futurism reports, the problem with conventional glass is that it’s not only a terrible insulator — meaning high cooling and heating costs — but it also has a heavy environmental footprint, with its manufacturing emitting about 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.
The novel material aims to tackle both problems. The researchers claim that their transparent wood could make windows five times more thermally efficient compared to the glass while creating the material is also a far greener process since it’s made from the sustainable, fast-growing balsa tree.
As part of the material’s production process, the wood is oxidized in a special bleach bath and then penetrated with a synthetic polymer. Compared to glass, the see-through wood is more durable and tends to bend and splinter like wood instead of shattering into pieces.