Wood can be now stronger and tougher by about 10 times as compared to natural wood, thanks to a new way of treating wood devised by researchers at the University of Maryland, College Park. The new method to treat wood can make its strength comparable or even better than several titanium alloys. Researchers say that the wood treated with this method can be a good alternative to titanium alloys and carbon fiber, and a cheaper one at that.
Engineers have also found out that the wood treated through the new method is six times lighter than steel but has comparable strength. It has been observed that it takes nearly 10 times as much energy required to fracture natural wood to fracture the new variety of treated wood. Thus any application that uses steel but can do better with reduced weight can make use of this kind of wood, with potential applications ranging across airplanes, cars, and buildings. Moreover, it can also be molded and bent at the start of the process. When tested against bullet-like projectiles, the fully treated wood was able to stop the bullet partway through it while the bullet passed straight through natural wood.
The method is flexible and can be applied to a wide variety of woods. Its implementation is also fairly easy. Thus it can be used with softer varieties of woods such as balsa or pine, which are environmentally friendlier and grow faster. Thus softer woods treated using this method can emerge as good candidates for denser and slower-growing woods such as teak in several applications such as buildings and furniture.