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By Alan J. Pierce EdD
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Wood that is as Tough, Hard, and Strong as Steel
(Published December 2018 in TechDirections Magazine)
Wood - as strong as a titanium alloy
In a lab at the University of Maryland, material science and engineering professors and their students have developed a new densification process that makes common wood as strong as steel.
The basic information you need to know about wood to understand their densification process is:
1. Wood, like all plants, has hard cell walls that nature has learned how to build by combining hemicellulose and cellulose fiber.
2. Wood has a third chemical ingredient called lignin, in and between these hard walled cells.
3. Lignin acts as a natural glue and also gives the wood its ability to resist compression.
4. It is the combination of these three ingredients that gives wood its structure, hardness, and has made wood the perfect building material for thousands of years.
This column describes the densification process and where you can expect to find densified wood products in the near future.