Today we live in an age of incredible new materials: graphene and plastics, alloys ceramics composite materials, carbon fibre... but none of these materials can replace the wood that has accompanied humans since the beginning of human culture.
In the face of this supermaterial, we need to remember that wood is a general idea, an abstraction with a biological basis... but wood is real, many woods as there are woody plants on the planet. . This is just one species. There are approximately 100,000. The wood they produce can be very different and used for a variety of purposes.
Another important factor to consider is that wood is the most abundant material in our biosphere. Wood's accessibility, mechanical performance, and sustainability are all contributing factors to its regaining the commercial significance it once enjoyed. Its characteristics as a material are not the only thing that matters. Climate change is another. On the one hand, this requires that greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide and methane not be emitted to the atmosphere. However, it also imposes the responsibility for capturing carbon from atmosphere. This carbon was part of large amounts of vegetation that humans have used in the past as oil, gas, and coal. Wood, which was millions of years old, is an attractive option to capture carbon and can be kept in the atmosphere for thousands or thousands of years.
Wood is first and foremost a plant product. Composite materials are those in which several components perform different functions to resist various forces. The first component in wood is cellulose fibers. This polysaccharide, which are made up of long chains of thousands D-glucose units and makes up approximately half of the wood, is the first. Cellulose is responsible to resist tension and torsion, which are two forces to which any material must be subject.
The hemicelluloses are the second component of wood. They are polysaccharides, but also contain other sugars. Hardwoods have a higher proportion of hemicelluloses (20-35% of wood's volume).
Cellulose and the hemicellulose fibers look like any other plant. They are unique because they are embedded in a matrix or embedded within lignin. This is the substance that resists compressive forces and makes up between 25-30% of wood. Lignin is an organic polymer class that has been derived from three cross-linked alcohols, coniferyl alcohol and sinapylalcool.
Reinforced concrete is a common compound in the synthetic world. Here, metal rods serve the functions of cellulose or hemicelluloses and cement is the matrix which supports compression.
According to the data available, scholars believe that wood first appeared on the planet during the Devonian geological period (409-359 million years ago). This period was marked by important events. The transition of life from the sea to land was complete and plants started to develop roots. Armoricaphyton chateaupannense is the first fossil to demonstrate a woody stem. It was found in western France. Nature invented wood.
Two types of wood can be found in a trunk. The sapwood is the outermost layer. It is composed of living cells. These cells form a xylem, a system of narrow tubes that transport water and nutrients through capillarity from the roots to the rest. The sapwood's outermost layer is covered by a thin cambium layer. This is where the tree begins to grow outwards each year. It forms the rings that give us data about the climate and conditions as well as the age of the trees. Each year of his existence. The heartwood lies beneath the sapwood. It is dead because the xylem is clogged with resins, and has stopped functioning as a nutrient carrier.
Wood's structure is strong and resistant. This wood has been used to build railway tracks and lay sleepers. It is both strong and light. It is extremely resistant to compression which makes it possible for heavy-duty wooden columns to be made. Ceilings made of wood dating back to the thirteenth century are still in use in many medieval cathedrals. Wood is able to absorb and expel water according its environment, much like a natural humidifier. Even when it is burned, wood retains a certain structural coherence, which metals and plastics lack in the face heat. Its excellent insulation capacity makes it a preferred building material for extreme climates.
Wood is an eco-friendly, renewable, 100% recyclable and sustainable material. It is also beautiful, which is a bonus for many applications. Wood's texture, aroma, veins, knots, and rings are all very appealing to the human eye.
Today we see polymers with wood fibers embedded in cars, robots that move more fluidly and computer cases for humid countries. Chemistry today employs wood for optical and electronic films, as well as investigating its potential use in plastics production.
A group of materials scientists at the University of Maryland presented a method to remove lignin and other hemicelluloses from wood. Then, they compress the wood until the cells break down and chemical bonds form. This creates a superwood that is more rigid, resists compression and can withstand bullets. It's also very affordable to make.
Many wood is not a material of the past. It's a great material for building the future.