Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) have created an environmentally friendly alternative to both glass and plastic. They developed “transparent wood,” which is not only biodegradable and renewable but is also five times more efficient than glass.
Environmentally-friendly building material
“Transparent wood as a material can replace the environmentally harmful petroleum-based plastics such as polypropylene, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), acrylic, polyethylene, etc.,” Prodyut Dhar, an author of the study
How they developed transparent wood
Researchers developed transparent wood by removing the naturally occurring polymer lignin in the wood and replacing it with epoxy. To do so, the wood is initially soaked in a warm solution containing chemicals such as sodium hydroxide, sodium sulfite, and sodium hypochlorite.
After that, it is boiled in a hydrogen peroxide solution. As a result, the lignin is completely removed and it helps in turning the wood white. The space which was initially occupied by lignin is then replaced by epoxy.
Dhar added, “Plastics are used as a substitute for glass which is (naturally) fragile,”
“However, transparent wood is an even better alternative from an ecological perspective as observed in our life-cycle analysis.”
This study is published in the journal Science of The Total Environment.