Today’s Solutions: January 29, 2023

From furniture to building parts, wood is so ubiquitous that we often take it for granted. However, this commonplace material has been used for millennia and plays a crucial role in our journey to achieve a circular economy. In fact, this versatile material can now be found in a variety of everyday items you might not know contained wood products, such as:

Supercars

Yes, engineers in Japan have built a supercar from cellulose nanofiber — a wood-derived material that’s stronger than steel. The project was commissioned by the Japanese government as part of its efforts to cut emissions from car manufacturing. As reported by the World Economic Forum, the wood-based supercar weighs two times less than a traditional one.

Chewing gum

Before relying on a synthetic rubbery material, chewing gum was traditionally made from chicle — a milky latex from the sapodilla tree. Ancient civilizations such as the Aztecs were among the first ones who enjoyed chewing it.

Water filters

MIT scientists figured out a way to use xylem tissue from sapwood to create filters that can purify water. The wood-based filters were successfully able to filter bacteria and viruses from contaminated water.

Car wax

The carnauba wax found in many car wax brands comes from the leaves of the Copernicia prunifera, a palm tree that grows exclusively in Brazil. It’s harvested by drying and beating the leaves.

Skyscrapers

Architects and builders are all excited about wood as a building material that could substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with building tall structures. Not only are they more environmentally friendly, but timber skyscrapers can also be built faster and cheaper than traditional concrete and steel structures.

3D printer ink

Swiss scientists have managed to create an eco-friendly ink based on cellulose nanocrystals. According to the team, the material could be used for the 3D printing of implants and other biomedical applications.

Aspirin

This ubiquitous medicine is based on salicin, an active ingredient that was discovered in the 1800s in the bark of willow trees.

Sponges

A lot of eco-friendly dish sponges are made from wood-based cellulose. However, scientists have also used balsa wood to create an oil-sucking sponge that can absorb up to 41 times its weight — a property that could prove incredibly useful for cleaning up oil spills.

As wood crops up in an increasing number of everyday products, ensuring responsible forestry and strategic reforestation will be key in preserving this invaluable, renewable resource.

Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

Why a clover lawn is so much better than a grass lawn

Americans use more than 7 billion gallons of water a day on their lawns. Over half of that doesn't even help lawns. People overwater, ...

Read More

Oakland-based startup is 3D-printing homes in 24 hours

We have previously written about a nonprofit called New Story that was building the world’s first 3D-printed neighborhood for impoverished people in Mexico. Now, ...

Read More

This novel hearing aid works like a contact lens for the ears

Although hearing aids can be helpful at improving auditory sensations in people with hearing problems, most of these devices use a tiny speaker that ...

Read More

James Webb Space Telescope officially launches into space

As most of us were celebrating Christmas morning in December 2021, NASA was celebrating a different event: the successful launch of the James Webb Space ...

Read More