Researchers of the University of Maryland have developed a heat insulation material made from wood, called nano tree. The material insulates heat better than, for example, styrofoam.
Nano tree is made by removing lignin from the wood chemically. The process resembles that of paper manufacturing.
The colour and strength of wood is created by lignin. When lignin is removed, the material becomes white.
The thermal conductivity of wood is created in channels, in which the living tree moves water and nutrients. In nano tree, the warmth can move freely in these channels, but it is blocked in all other directions. With this characteristic the warmth can be isolated or channelled to a desired direction or place.
According to Tian Lin, post doc student at the university, nano tree is a promising building material because of its energy efficiency. It also is 30 times stronger than styrofoam. It is fully biodegradable and it should not cause any allergies.
The research group manufactured nano tree in different sizes and shapes: as thick blocks, thin layer and flexible and rollable form.
So far the project is at a research level and there is no information as to its commercial utilizing possibilities.