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Citrus derivative makes transparent wood 100 percent renewable
Posted by: Steve G.
Date: May 04, 2021 03:57PM
Bet you didn't even know there was transparent wood (see picture)

[phys.org]
Since it was first introduced in 2016, transparent wood has been developed by researchers at KTH Royal Institute of Technology as an innovative structural material for building construction. It lets natural light through and can even store thermal energy.

The key to making wood into a transparent composite material is to strip out its lignin, the major light-absorbing component in wood. But the empty pores left behind by the absence of lignin need to be filled with something that restores the wood's strength and allows light to permeate.

In earlier versions of the composite, researchers at KTH's Wallenberg Wood Science Centre used fossil-based polymers. Now, the researchers have successfully tested an eco-friendly alternative: limonene acrylate, a monomer made from limonene. They reported their results in Advanced Science.

"The new limonene acrylate it is made from renewable citrus, such as peel waste that can be recycled from the orange juice industry," says the lead author, Ph.D. student Céline Montanari.

An extract from orange juice production is used to create the polymer that restores delignified wood's strength and allows light to pass through.

The new composite offers optical transmittance of 90 percent at 1.2 mm thickness and remarkably low haze of 30 percent, the researchers report. Unlike other transparent wood composites developed during the past five years, the material developed at KTH is intended for structural use. It shows heavy-duty mechanical performance: with a strength of 174 MPa (25.2 ksi) and elasticity of 17 GPa (or about 2.5 Mpsi).



Previous versions of the see-through wood developed at KTH, left, are seen together with the latest, more translucent type developed with citrus derivatives. Credit: Céline Montanari

Yet all along, sustainability has been a priority for the research group, says Professor Lars Berglund, the head of the KTH's Department of Fibre and Polymer Technology.

"Replacing the fossil-based polymers has been one of the challenges we have had in making sustainable transparent wood," Berglund says.

Environmental considerations and so-called green chemistry permeate the entire work, he says. The material is made with no solvents, and all chemicals are derived from bio-based raw materials.

The new advances could enable a yet unexplored range of applications, such as in wood nanotechnology, Berglund says. Possibilities include smart windows, wood for heat-storage, wood that has built-in lighting function—even a wooden laser.

"We have looked at where the light goes, and what happens when it hits the cellulose," Berglund says. "Some of the light goes straight through the wood, and makes the material transparent. Some of the light is refracted and scattered at different angles and gives pleasant effects in lighting applications."



Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 05/04/2021 04:10PM by Steve G..
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Re: Citrus derivative makes transparent wood 100 percent renewable
Posted by: S. Pupp
Date: May 04, 2021 04:19PM
Very nice!
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Re: Citrus derivative makes transparent wood 100 percent renewable
Posted by: hal
Date: May 04, 2021 04:22PM
you say 'Citrus derivative' and I'm thinking...

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Re: Citrus derivative makes transparent wood 100 percent renewable
Posted by: Acer
Date: May 04, 2021 04:31PM
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Re: Citrus derivative makes transparent wood 100 percent renewable
Posted by: Acer
Date: May 04, 2021 04:34PM
But do the polymers break down when no longer needed? Plastic is plastic, even if it's made from orange peels, and can have the same environmental issues...unless there's something different about this polymer.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/04/2021 04:34PM by Acer.
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Re: Citrus derivative makes transparent wood 100 percent renewable
Posted by: ztirffritz
Date: May 04, 2021 05:04PM
Nile Red and Xyla Foxlin have been trying to do this for a while.

Nile Red:
[www.youtube.com]



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Re: Citrus derivative makes transparent wood 100 percent renewable
Posted by: Ombligo
Date: May 04, 2021 05:12PM
add some min-wax and you can have Stained Glass



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Re: Citrus derivative makes transparent wood 100 percent renewable
Posted by: Forrest
Date: May 04, 2021 05:40PM
Acer - good question. I don’t know the answer.

PLA is a polymer made from starch than can be broken down without toxic fumes.
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Re: Citrus derivative makes transparent wood 100 percent renewable
Posted by: ztirffritz
Date: May 04, 2021 05:52PM
PLA breaks down in sunlight I believe. Most plastics do actually.



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Re: Citrus derivative makes transparent wood 100 percent renewable
Posted by: Filliam H. Muffman
Date: May 04, 2021 07:46PM
Thanks Steve. I had seen several mentions of it across various news feeds but not Phys.org. I will be very interested to see if someone can modify this process to make it transparent and a good insulator (like aerogel).



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Re: Citrus derivative makes transparent wood 100 percent renewable
Posted by: JoeH
Date: May 04, 2021 07:55PM
Quote
ztirffritz
PLA breaks down in sunlight I believe. Most plastics do actually.

PLA breaks down in the presence of water and elevated temperature. At room temperature it is very slow, but UV light does contribute to the degradation.

Many plastics however don't break down all that much in sunlight, very dependent on the type.
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