Researchers discover wood-based fire-resistant material

Parallel fibres in beech wood Photo: DR KEITH WHEELER/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Researchers at the University of Maryland have developed a wood-based material that outperforms almost all other heat insulators and costs about $7 a metre to manufacture.

“Nanowood” is created by stripping away all the filler material in wood, leaving just the fibres. This is achieved by exposing wood to sodium hydroxide, sodium sulphite and hydrogen peroxide, all inexpensive chemicals. This strips out the cell walls, leaving the wood’s natural, parallel fibres, which create the high-performance insulation. A square metre of nanowood would cost about $7 to make.

Because is is made from wood – a renewable resource – nanowood is environmentally sustainable too.

Journal reference: Science Advances, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aar3724