Scientists have designed "transparent wood" that could replace conventional glass in windows.The innovation was developed using wood from the balsa tree, which is native to South and Central America, and claims to be five times more thermally efficient than glass.
The team treated balsa wood in an oxidizing bath that bleaches it of nearly all visibility and then penetrated it with a synthetic polymer called polyvinyl alcohol, creating a product that is virtually transparent.Unlike traditional glass, the transparent wood can withstand much stronger impacts and will bend or splinter when damaged, instead of shattering.
The transparent wood was created by teams at the University of Maryland and University of Colorado, which set out to find a greener alternative to conventional glass – a production that creates 25,000 tons in emissions each year.
Along with contributing to greenhouse gases, glass contributes to a loss of energy.
"Residential building windows in particular account for 10–25 percent of heat loss due to their poor thermal management capability," the team wrote in the study.