I found this post online and thought I’d share…
Who Wood Have Thought?
- A way to define the stages of human civilization is by material progress. The Stone Age began about 2.6 million years ago, when researchers found the earliest evidence of humans using stone tools, giving way to the Bronze Age and then the Iron Age. We’re currently living in the hydrocarbon age, fueled by coal, oil, and gas. These fossil fuels supply our energy needs and make possible the materials that define our civilization: steel, concrete, and plastic. Scientists know that carbon dioxide and plastic waste are destroying our planet so we have to move on from using hydrocarbons — and fast. Many of them think that wood could be the answer.
- Scientists who’ve been studying how wood can be formed in a lab can imagine a wood-based, climate-saving economy rescuing the planet. Wood can already be processed into a super-material with extraordinary properties. Teng Li at the University of Maryland and his colleagues developed a material called hardened wood which is 23 times harder than raw wood and can be carved to make knives three times sharper than standard steel ones. A coating of mineral oil makes the knives resistant to water. The key to making the knives so sharp was using strong cellulose fibers found in plant cell walls, which make up almost half the mass of wood. “The hardened wood knives can be washed, dried, and re-sharpened if needed so that an extended lifetime is expected,” Teng says.
- People around the world in materials science labs and design studios are working on the theory that one day an entire civilization can be built from wood. A materials scientist, also at the University of Maryland, says “Wood could be used in cars.” He received a massive grant to build cars out of high-tech wood. And Japanese engineers are working on wooden concept cars as we speak. (phys.org, New Scientist, phys.org, CNET, Gear Patrol)