Techno Timber

Artificial Wood Resists Fire and Water




Dragonskydrive/Shutterstock.com

A new, lightweight synthetic wood has been created that is as strong as wood, but without its traditional vulnerability to fire and water, as reported by Shu-Hong Yu, a materials chemist at the University of Science and Technology of China, in Hefei, and the author of a study published in Science Advances. It’s made of polymer resin and chitosan, a sugar polymer derived from the shells of shrimp and crabs. Adding human-made or natural fibers to the mix could also help.

The new material does not require years to grow and repels water; samples soaked in water and a strong acid bath for 30 days scarcely weakened, while balsa wood lost two-thirds of its strength and 40 percent of its crush resistance. The new material is also difficult to ignite, and stopped burning when it was removed from the flame. Its porosity creates an air-trapping capacity that could make it suitable as an insulation for buildings, but eco-friendly alternatives to the polymer resins are needed to broaden interest in its utility.


This article appears in the March 2019 issue of Natural Awakenings.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More from Natural Awakenings

Feeding Healthy Habits

Today’s barrage of junk food ads can easily influence kids for the worse, but 10 strategies, including visiting farmers’ markets, teaching cooking skills and implementing device-free family meals, can help them choose to eat better.

Beyond Sustainability

Farmers are increasingly exploring inexpensive organic methods to return microbial diversity to the soil, which could help mitigate a warming planet by allowing soil to absorb more carbon.

Aysha Akhtar on Our Symphony With Animals

Through her personal story as a survivor of childhood abuse and the stories of others, the neurologist demonstrates the scientific bond between animals and humans—and how they can heal each other.

Take It Easy on the Eggs

Eating three to four eggs a week increases heart disease mortality by 6 percent and all-cause mortality by 8 percent, a new study found.

Savor Cherries to Lower Metabolic Syndrome Risk

Montmorency tart cherries in juice or capsules lower systolic blood pressure and insulin levels within hours, reducing factors that lead to metabolic syndrome.

Add your comment:
Edit ModuleShow Tags

See More »This Month

Fair Trade Gala Highlights Anti-Sweatshop Ordinance

Chicago Fair Trade will hold a gala event at the National Museum of Mexican Art.

Meet Stephanie Miller and Thom Hartmann at WCPT Events

Locally owned WCPT is one of the last truly independent radio stations in the country, with nationally syndicated programs. In November, they are presenting two local events.

The Answer is: DANCE!

When people move in a nonlinear way, such as in a structured dance class, they build physical strength and stability.

The Plant Sale of the Season Has Arrived

The plants for the Conserve Lake County Native Plant Sale don’t actually arrive until May, but conscientious cultivators can order ahead online and pick up their bounty later, so as not to get shut out of their favorite flora on sale day.

Get More Energy This New Year

The Gynecology Institute of Chicago will start the new year with a 14-day Paleo Cleanse detox preview event on January 27.

Join a Community Supported Agriculture Program

Band of Farmers: The Chicagoland CSA Coalition can help people find the community supported agriculture (CSA) program that best fits their needs.