Transparent wood - the product of the future?

Company Woodoo was founded in 2016 by Timothée Boitouzet. After completing his architectural studies in Japan, Boitouzet, began researching innovative ways to adapt and transform a millennia-old material - wood - to today's requirements and needs. His mission is to transform the construction industry and building materials by replacing materials such as steel and concrete with wood.

Transparent wood
Image source: woodoo.com

Forests store carbon - about half the weight of dry wood is carbon - so using this natural, renewable (sustainably harvested) material in construction is an effective way to store carbon. Using wood in both residential and commercial construction could help reduce carbon emissions from the construction industry. According to a recent report by World Green Building Council buildings are responsible for 39% of total global carbon emissions. The same report estimates that 11% of global carbon emissions are generated by materials and processes used throughout the life cycles of buildings.

But wood can also be used successfully for other applications. Boitouzet has started a project called Woodoo Augmented Wood* in order to integrate electronic components into tactile wood (touch-sensitive wood). The innovative wood-based material, which is electrically conductive, will be integrated into touch panels on car dashboards.

Tactile wood is based on an innovative type of product, which is obtained by removing lignin and replacing it with a specific type of polymer. The resulting product - which has been named transparent wood** - is weatherproof, fire resistant and durable. The optical properties of the polymer mirror the properties of the wood so light does not bend when it moves through the augmented wood.

So far, Woodoo has worked with the automotive industry, which is interested in its products because wood-based products are lighter and produce fewer emissions than panels made of traditional materials (e.g. plastic).

*The Woodoo project has been funded under the Horizon 2020 programme. Horizon 2020 is the largest research and innovation programme ever undertaken by the EU and will lead to more breakthrough innovations, discoveries and world firsts, bringing great ideas from the lab to the market. Funding of €80 billion is available over 7 years (2014-2020) - in addition to the private and national public investment this funding will attract.

**Most articles and companies working on the development of this innovative product call it transparent wood, but nowadays the opacity of the material gives it a translucent character. Research continues to achieve this property - transparency - so that the new wood-based product can be a genuine alternative to glass.


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