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U. of Maryland Researchers Create 'Super Wood'
Possible Alternative to Steel


Researchers Liangbing Hu (left) and Teng Li (right), from the University of Maryland, have developed a new method of turning regular wood into 'super wood' that is reportedly more than ten times stronger and six times lighter than steel.
Photo Credit: University of Maryland

A University of Maryland research team, led by associate professor Liangbing Hu, has discovered a method for improving normal wood to be ultra strong, uber-light and very durable.

An article published by the university reports that the new 'super wood' is "as strong as steel, but six times lighter... requires 10 times more energy to fracture than natural wood and can be bent and molded at the beginning of the process."

The procedure for creating the super wood is twofold. First, lignin and hemicellulose (cellular components) are partially removed from the natural wood via a chemical boil. Next, the wood is hot pressed, which "leads to the total collapse of cell walls and the complete densification of the natural wood with highly aligned cellulose nanofibers," according to study researchers.

The team hopes that this new technology will be implemented as an alternative to steel in construction because it is environmentally friendlier and cheaper to produce than steel.

"When you think about replacing steel, there are pretty much endless applications like furniture, cars, and airplanes," said Hu.

In an interview with R&D Magazine, Hu mentions that one of the hurtles his team is facing is getting the super wood to the point of mass fabrication. "We are an academic environment, we are not too familiar with mass production... We have a company that is trying to commercialize this technology."

More can be read about this new research on the University of Maryland's website HERE.

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August 25, 2019, 1:25 am PDT

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