Research by scientists suggests that designed ‘transparent wood’ could replace conventional glass in the future, and might trickle down to windows and mobile phones. The innovation developed using wood from the balsa tree, which is native to South and Central America, and created by the University of Maryland and University of Colorado claims to be five times more thermally efficient than glass. The team from the two universities, which set out to find a greener alternative to conventional glass treated balsa wood in an oxidizing bath that bleaches it of nearly all visibility and then penetrated it with a synthetic polymer called polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), creating a product that is virtually transparent.
The research published on the USD (US Department of Agriculture (website) claim that the innovation is more durable and lighter than glass.
Unlike conventional glass, the transparent wood can resist much stronger impacts and will bend or splinter when damaged, instead of shattering.
The team wrote in the study "Residential building windows in particular account for 10–25% of the heat loss due to their poor thermal management capability.
"Exploring energy efficient window materials is thus highly desirable to address heating costs, energy shortages, and the global impact of climate change associated with increased carbon emissions."
Along with contributing to greenhouse gases, glass contributes to a loss of energy.