Photo credit: Sy Fy Wire

A tree, native to south and central America, which is called the balsa tree, has been innovated to form ‘transparent wood’ that could conveniently replace glass in windows.

Scientists have claimed that the wood is five times more thermally efficient than glass.

The balsa wood was treated in an oxidizing bath that bleaches it, it was then penetrated with a synthetic polymer called polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) that makes it transparent- just like glass- when seen.

The transparent wood was said to be able to withstand much stronger impacts, unlike glass, will bend or splinter when distorted or damaged.

The transparent wood, which was designed by a group of Scientists at the University of Maryland and University of Colorado, was designed to replace conventional glass, which produces 25,000 tons of emission yearly.

This was written in a study made by the team: “Residential building windows in particular account for 10–25% of the heat loss due to their poor thermal management capability.”

“Exploring energy efficient window materials is thus highly desirable to address heating costs, energy shortages, and the global impact of climate change associated with increased carbon emissions,” they wrote.

The team experimented on balsa wood because of its fast growth and its ability to absorb light.

The balsa wood is not the first type of wood that was experimented to form transparent wood. There has been previous experiments that focused on wood anatomy in its microscopic level.

Scientists submerged the balsa wood in a bleach solution at room temperature to neutralize it’s light absorbing ability from the wood’s structure.

“Then in order to obtain high optical transmittance and low haze simultaneously, we infiltrated the wood template with PVA,” they wrote in the study.

‘PVA is widely used in composites as it is an environmentally friendly polymer featuring optical transparency.’

“Switching to transparent wood could prove to be cost efficient as well,” they shared in a statement.
“It is approximately five times more thermally efficient than glass, cutting energy costs.”

The team sighted that polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) and cellulose bonding in the wood, makes a tight structure that provides thermal protection and makes it more stronger than normal glass.

‘Switching to transparent wood could prove to be cost efficient as well,’ researchers sighted in a statement.

‘It is approximately five times more thermally efficient than glass, cutting energy costs.’

‘It is made from a sustainable, renewable resource with low carbon emissions. It’s also compatible with existing industrial processing equipment, making the transition into manufacturing an easy prospect.’

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