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John O | April 2019

Researchers create transparent wood that stores and releases heat for potential energy savings

By Josh Perry, Editor


Researchers from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden presented a study of a new, transparent wood that absorbs and releases heat and could lead to savings on energy costs at the American Chemical Society (ACS) Spring 2019 National Meeting and Exposition.


Researchers developed a transparent wood that stores and releases heat. (YouTube/ACS)


According to a report from the ACS, the material bears heavy loads and is biodegradable, which makes it a potential building block for environmentally-friendly homes.


This new development was an advancement on previous research that created transparent material by removing lignin from balsa wood. Acrylic was added to reduce light scattering and what remained was a material that was see-through but “hazy enough to provide privacy.”


Researchers added polyethylene glycol (PEG) to the material because of its insulating properties and because the polymer has been shown to work well with wood. A phase-change material, PEG has a melting point of 80°F although that can be altered. During the day, the PEG would absorb the heat, leaving the inside cooler, and at night the PEG solidifies and releases heat indoors.


“The team encapsulated PEG within the de-lignified wood scaffold, which prevented leakage of the polymer during phase transitions,” the article explained. “They also incorporated acrylic into the material to protect it from humidity. Like their earlier version, the modified wood was transparent, though slightly hazy, and strong, but had the added bonus of storing heat.”


Learn more about this new material in the video below:

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