Techno Timber

Artificial Wood Resists Fire and Water




Dragonskydrive/Shutterstock.com

A new, lightweight synthetic wood has been created that is as strong as wood, but without its traditional vulnerability to fire and water, as reported by Shu-Hong Yu, a materials chemist at the University of Science and Technology of China, in Hefei, and the author of a study published in Science Advances. It’s made of polymer resin and chitosan, a sugar polymer derived from the shells of shrimp and crabs. Adding human-made or natural fibers to the mix could also help.

The new material does not require years to grow and repels water; samples soaked in water and a strong acid bath for 30 days scarcely weakened, while balsa wood lost two-thirds of its strength and 40 percent of its crush resistance. The new material is also difficult to ignite, and stopped burning when it was removed from the flame. Its porosity creates an air-trapping capacity that could make it suitable as an insulation for buildings, but eco-friendly alternatives to the polymer resins are needed to broaden interest in its utility.


This article appears in the March 2019 issue of Natural Awakenings.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Content

Gardening for Kids

Give kids a patch of dirt and a trowel, and they’ll not only have fun but can find a fresh new appetite for fruit and vegetables.

Toxic Legacy

Women in growing numbers are joining together to deal with the long-term, serious health threats posed by saline and silicone implants.

Plants Talk

Plants may not be raising an audible ruckus, but scientists are finding they communicate silently with each other through smells, hearing and underground networks.

Dancing Prevents Senior Decline

Elderly Japanese women who danced for exercise were 73 percent less likely to be impaired eight years later doing “activities of daily living” such as walking, cooking, dressing and bathing.

U.S. Heart Disease on the Rise

An estimated 48 percent of American adults have cardiovascular disease, but about 80 percent of the time the disease can be prevented with precautionary medical care and lifestyle changes.

Add your comment: