Easier process to turn wood transparent

The standard procedure involves soaking wood in a vat of sodium chlorite to remove the wood’s lignin, its structural component. But this process requires lots of chemicals, may weaken the wood, and produces chemical waste.

Scientists at the University of Maryland say they have come up with a new method that improves the process significantly. Instead of removing lignin completely, the team found a way to remove only the parts of the molecules which give them colour.

The procedure results in wood that is 90% transparent and 50 times stronger than transparent wood developed under the previous method. Transparent wood would perform as a better version of glass as it takes less energy to heat and cool. It is also sturdier than traditional wood and can be used in place of less environment=friendly materials, such as plastics.

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