A new type of modified wood that can trap heat and then release it when needed could help buildings cut down on their energy use.
Scientists say that the revolutionary material, which is biodegradable, can bear heavy loads and could open the door for ‘eco-friendly’ homes and other buildings.
The researchers, from KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, produced technically transparent wood, which allows light to pass through it.
They did this by removing a light-absorbing component called lignin from the wood’s cell walls and adding polyethylene glycol (PEG), which stores heat.
After adding acrylic – which stops the light from bouncing around – into the porous wood, the resulting material is physically strong and and virtually clear.
The material is not completely transparent but its hazy appearance provides enough privacy without shutting out external light.
The material is able to absorb heat before it reaches the indoor space, making it cooler inside and at night it releases the heat indoors.
Céline Montanari, a PhD student student at the University said: ‘Back in 2016, we showed that transparent wood has excellent thermal-insulating properties compared with glass, combined with high optical transmittance.