High-tech wood filled with air cavities could insulate your home

Removing polymers from wood, leaving tiny cavities, can drastically improve the material’s insulating properties without removing too much of its strength, which might make it useful in buildings


10 January 2023

A man holding up insulwood

Insulwood has better insulating properties than untreated wood

University of Maryland

A porous material made by treating wood with sodium hydroxide could better insulate homes against cold and noise.

Wood is one of the most sustainable building materials available, but it is generally a poor insulator. Now, Liangbing Hu at the University of Maryland and his colleagues have worked out how to rapidly heat wood and then slowly cool it to remove polymers known as lignin and hemicelluloses, making it porous and therefore a more effective insulator.

The researchers call the resulting material insulwood. …

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