This is 'nanowood,' an invention that could reduce humanity's carbon footprint
Scientists have designed a heat-insulating material made from wood that is both light and strong and made entirely from tiny, stripped-down wood fibers.
The so-called nanowood, described in the journal Science Advances, could one day be used to make more energy-efficient buildings. It's cheap and biodegradable, too.
"Nature is producing this kind of material," said senior author Liangbing Hu, a materials scientist and engineer at the University of Maryland in College Park.
Managing heat is a major issue in the cities we build. It's hard to keep heat indoors in the winter and keep it outdoors in the summer. The insulating materials currently in use are often very expensive to make, both in terms of money and of energy. They're not usually biodegradable and ultimately contribute to our growing landfills. So scientists have been trying to come up with cheaper, more environmentally friendly options.
Edit: Got curious and read through part of the article. Here is the section talking about how it is produced:
The nanowood is directly fabricated from natural American basswood. Note that we use American basswood as a demonstration, and that other wood species can also be used. The sample was cut along the growth direction (fig. S1). The original wood piece was treated with a mixture of NaOH and Na2SO3 heated to boiling temperatures, followed by subsequent treatment with H2O2 to remove the lignin and most of the hemicellulose from the natural wood (fig. S2) (45, 46). The wood microstructure and the hierarchal alignment are well-preserved during this process, and the sample is subsequently freeze-dried (fig. S3) (47) to preserve the nanoporous structure of the delignified wood. The weight loss and lignin content change for a 12 mm × 30 mm × 120 mm sample during the chemical process are also shown in fig. S2. The resulting nanowood is composed of mainly cellulose nanofibrils in the form of fibril aggregates. The effectiveness of lignin and hemicellulose removal is also demonstrated by high brightness of the fabricated nanowood (Figs. 1 and 2C, and figs. S1 to S3 and S7).
NaOH is Sodium hydroxide, Na2SO3 is Sodium sulfite, and H2O2 is Hydrogen peroxide.
What do you all think? Also, can American basswood be coppiced? Wonder how many types of trees could be used for this and what size the wood needs to be...