The race for sustainable building materials has been in effect for a few years, largely boosted by a context combining global warming and energy transition. French researchers presented an astonishing material, allowing a good thermal insulation and a rather attractive natural lighting.
Transparent wood material
On its official page, the start-up Woodoo describes a resistant material, insulating and allowing light to pass through while limiting the reach of external eyes. This almost perfect material could in the fairly near future integrate the walls, ceilings and roofs of our buildings. As the creators explain, the material is wood. More precisely, it is Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii).
By using chemicals such as epoxy (epoxy polymers) it was possible to remove lignin selectively. Remember that lignin is the main component of wood. In only two hours, the researchers succeeded in obtaining “augmented wood”, that is to say a wood transparent to light while retaining its structural properties.
Very interesting properties
Then it was a matter of cutting the wood against the grain. The goal? Act on channel-shaped nanostructures, whose function is to transport water and nutrients. However, this type of cut makes it possible to place these nanostructures along the smallest dimension. Thanks to this process, Woodoo wood promises very interesting performances. Indeed, the channels allow a 80% light propagation, and this whatever its angle of incidence.
Moreover, this system generates a kind of veil blocking 93% of light to go in the opposite direction. In other words, it is a question of a quasi-opacity from the outside. The researchers also reported that their material was more resistant to glass and 2.5 times more capable of retaining heat. In view of its characteristics, it seems obvious that Woodoo wood will have a bright future ahead of it.
In 2016, Swedish scientists had already developed a transparent wood. However, the latter already had exceptional properties of insulation and optical transmittance compared to glass. In addition, this wood can absorb, store and release heat. The researchers explained that they had developed this material by integrating wood polyethylene glycol (PEG), a product used in many types of industries.
Here is an explanatory video regarding Woodoo wood, which made a noticeable appearance during the recent CES 2021: