Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Engineers at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD) have found a way to make wood more than 10 times stronger and tougher than before, creating a natural substance that is stronger than many titanium alloys. “This new way to treat wood makes it 12 times stronger than natural wood and 10 times tougher,” said Liangbing Hu of UMD’s A. James Clark School of Engineering and the leader of the team that did the research published in the journal `Nature’.
“It is both strong and tough, which is a combination not usually found in nature,” said Teng Li, the co-leader of the team and Samuel P. Langley Associate Professor of mechanical engineering at UMD’s Clark School. His team measured the dense wood’s mechanical properties. “It is as strong as steel, but six times lighter. It takes 10 times more energy to fracture than natural wood. It can even be bent and molded at the beginning of the process.” The team also tested the new wood material and natural wood by shooting bullet-like projectiles at it. The projectile blew straight through the natural wood. The fully treated wood stopped the projectile partway through. “This kind of wood could be used in cars, airplanes, buildings — any application where steel is used,” Hu said.