This is actually a great invention. Think of the lives that could be spared from stray bullets.
While some musicians and most woodworkers can spend hours discussing the physical attributes of wood, the rest of us find the subject somewhat mundane. Wood, though, is enjoying a bit of renewed interest thanks to a research team who have found a way to make wood that’s so strong it can stop bullets.
The team from the University of Maryland are taking a natural material and making it ten times tougher. Their chemical treatments may soon take soft woods, like pine, and make these fast-growing trees much more useful.
“This new way to treat wood makes it twelve times stronger than natural wood and ten times tougher,” says Liangbing Hu, head of the research team said in a press release. “This could be a competitor to steel or even titanium alloys, it is so strong and durable. It’s also comparable to carbon fiber, but much less expensive.”
With the lignin removed, the team simply compressed what was left. The remaining cellulose packs tightly. Imperfections in the wood, like knots, are crushed. When heated, the remaining fibers form hydrogen bonds.
The scientists say this is like “a crowd of people who can’t budge–who are…