Scientists Create Transparent Wood Nearly as Clear as Glass to Make Stronger, Better Insulating Windows

Of the energy used in the United States, 3.5% goes right out the window, wasted because of inefficient glass panes in winter and summer. Now, scientists have given us a way to utilize sustainable tree products as a replacement for costly glass. A group of scientists from the University of Maryland and University of Colorado have demonstrated that transparent wood has the potential to outperform glass windows in nearly every way, making it one of the most promising materials of the future. In fact, transparent wood is approximately five times more thermally efficient than glass, substantially cutting energy costs. The scientists used wood from the fast-growing, low-density balsa tree. It's treated to a room temperature, oxidizing bath that bleaches it of nearly all visibility. The wood is then penetrated with a synthetic polymer called polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), creating a product that's nearly transparent. With all of these potential benefits for consumers, manufacturing, and the environment, the case for transparent wood couldn’t be…….well, clearer.