The Scientists are at it again.
Wood you believe it?
It looks like they have have found a way to make wood stronger than structural metals. Lighter and cheaper too.
The journal Nature last week published a 'letter' by Song et al:
"Processing bulk natural wood into a high performance structural material".
The process involves treatment with particular chemicals and compression at 100 degrees C. The less technical parts of the abstract summarise as follows:
"Natural wood is a low-cost and abundant material and has been used for millennia as a structural material for building and furniture construction. However, the mechanical performance of natural wood (its strength and toughness) is unsatisfactory for many advanced engineering structures and applications. Pre-treatment with steam, heat, ammonia or cold rolling followed by densification has led to the enhanced mechanical performance of natural wood."
"Here we report a simple and effective strategy to transform bulk natural wood directly into a high-performance structural material with a more than tenfold increase in strength, toughness and ballistic resistance and with greater dimensional stability."
"This strategy is shown to be universally effective for various species of wood. Our processed wood has a specific strength higher than that of most structural metals and alloys, making it a low-cost, high-performance, lightweight alternative."
The full abstract is here. If you would like to read the full article you will have to find a scientist or pay the subscription.
In the same journal there is an article on the Song et al letter by Peter Fratzel here.
On the face of it this seems a very promising development. Watch this space for related progress in the structural timber field.