Natural wood has been used for millennia as a structural material for building and furniture construction, it is a low-cost and abundant material. However, for new and advanced engineering application and construction the mechanical performance (its strength and toughness) of Natural wood is quite unsatisfactory.
To overcome the inefficiencies of Natural wood the newest concept of “Super Wood” come into the picture. Super Wood is 12 times stronger and 10 times tougher than the Natural wood. It is both strong and tough, which is a combination not usually found in nature. It is so strong and durable that this could be a competitor to steel or even titanium alloys and can replace use of steel and alloys in many engineering applications. It is as strong as steel, but six times lighter.
Preparation of Super Wood comprises simple two step process. Their simple, two step process starts with boiling wood in a solution of sodium hydroxide (NaOH) and sodium sulfite (Na2SO3), a chemical treatment similar to the first step in creating the wood pulp used to make paper. This partially removes lignin and hemicellulose (natural polymers that help stiffen a plant’s cell walls. The second step is almost as simple as the first: Compressing the treated wood until its cell walls collapse, then maintaining that compression as it is gently heated. The pressure and heat encourage the formation of chemical bonds between large numbers of hydrogen atoms and neighboring atoms in adjacent nanofibers of cellulose, greatly strengthening the material.
Super Wood provides a highly promising route to the design of lightweight, high performance structural materials, with tremendous potential for a broad range of applications where high strength, large toughness and superior ballistic resistance are desired. This kind of wood could be used in cars, airplanes, buildings -any application where steel is used. Super Wood could even be used to make bullet-resistant armor plates.