We’ve been using wood as a building material for ages. We all known that no matter how tough wood can be, it cannot compete with steel when it comes to strength. Not anymore! A few researchers at the University of Maryland have rediscovered wood and made it tougher than steel. Yes, you read that right.
The engineers at the University of Maryland have created a new ‘Super Wood,’ which is 10 times stronger than natural wood, even the titanium alloys. They have actually found a way to make natural wood stronger and tougher than most metals, but the new super wood is six times lighter than metal.
To make the wood stronger, firstly the scientists removed wood’s lignin, an ingredient that makes the wood rigid and brown in color. After that, wood is compressed under the mild heat of 65 degrees Celsius, making its cellulose fibers become very tightly packed. Moreover, any defects in the wood such as holes or knots are also crushed together in this process. The treatment is then finished by giving the wood a coat of paint.
Due to this treatment, wood fibers compress so tightly that they can form strong hydrogen bonds, making wood five times thinner than the original size. In tests, the strength of the wood was tested by shooting bullet-like projectiles at it. The projectile blew straight through natural and untreated wood, but the treated wood stopped the projectiles.
These treated woods are considered more environmentally-friendly. Plus, these can be used to make strong furniture and buildings in future. It can even replace steel as building material even in the manufacturing of cars and planes.