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Transparent wood could be architecture's windows of tomorrow

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EXCERPTS: . . . A new research paper titled, “A Clear, Strong, and Thermally Insulated Transparent Wood for Energy Efficient Windows” published in the Journal of Advanced Functional Materials, from Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) scientist Junyong Zhu in conjunction with colleagues from the University of Maryland and University of Colorado, documents the creation of an advanced transparent wood material. It offers the potential of outperforming glass being presently used in all forms of construction in myriad ways.

[...] glass is the most common material used in window construction. However, it ... is notorious for heat transference, which leads to costly energy bills. Also, glass production carries a seriously heavy carbon footprint, with processing and manufacturing emissions totaling nearly 25,000 metric tons every year...

[...] The sorcery of transparent wood is accomplished by harvesting wood from the swift-growing, low-density balsa tree, which is then treated to a tepid, oxidizing bath that bleaches out almost all aspects of its visibility. Next, a synthetic polymer called polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) is carefully applied to the wood, where it penetrates the fibrous structure, thus making an amazing, near-invisible product.

[...] far lighter than traditional glass, with only partial splintering and bending occurring when struck by an object. With a thermal efficiency five times that of regular glass, transparent wood could seemingly be a smart option for homebuilders... (MORE - details)

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