Wood that's stronger than steel


Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/02/12/wood-thats-stronger-than-ste.html


I could have sworn I read about removing lignin from wood for improving the physical properties of wood at least ten years ago, maybe more.


I’ve had morning wood stronger than steel for 40 years. Just ask my wives! Hey-o!

Someone had to post that.


I see a mashup with this, the racist bigot from Fox, and daft punk.

Stronger, lighter, faster, higher, gayer, darker.


Cars that don’t rust? Homes impervious to termites? What’s the catch?


Processing, from the sounds of it. You need to boil it in a chemical bath to remove lignin, then compress it while heating it up; no idea about the timeframes involved. It could end up being a significant cost to time/materials. It can be pressed into shape while warm, but it seems like it will be more brittle at the end; I would be interested to see a materials engineer comment further once this stuff hits market.


splinters the size of Cincinnati


Tell me more.



Iron Man: Indonesia (seriously those guys can do anything with wood)


Nice, though I doubt it much ‘greener’ than steel. As you need quite agressive chemicals to remove the lignin and also a lot of energy to heat&compress.

But still, might be better in the and, as steel production is very energy hungry.


There is at least a much older patent us5678618. It doesn’t cite lignin but the technique looks very similar, with applied pressure at moderate temperature


There are even older technologies involving compressed plywood. It’s called “compreg” (“ligonfol” in Polish), and it is still manufactured here in Poland. Formerly it was widely used in aerospace industry because of it’s high strength in fiber directions (more than 140 MPa). I have some in my workshop and it can be machined like high density polyurethane prototyping boards. Tools for stamping sheet aluminum parts are still made from it. There were even self-lubricating kinds for use as machine parts, like gears, etc.


I don’t think “firing bullet like projectiles at it” is a metric used to gauge the strength of a steel.


It’d be no good for whittlin’.


I would like to see standard strength of material results before taking this too seriously. The bit with the bullet was a nice stunt, but it’s not real testing. Sodium sulfite and sodium hydroxide are nasty, and it will take some energy to hold it at 100C and compress it, but I’m guessing it’s not as bad as what you have to do to produce steel.


My first thought was to wonder if we could do this with other organic materials, like dog hair, which I am hoping is actually a renewable resource and not just the bain of my existence.


It’s a pet peeve of mine reading the words “stronger than steel”. It’s a meaningless statement since we don’t know which of steels properties are being surpassed when it’s said. Is it more ductile, has a higher plastic yield strength, higher potential hardness, better durability, maybe better weldability. And while we are at it, what kind of steel is it being compared to? Low carbon or high carbon? With or without heat treatment? With or without other alloys?

Take carbon fiber for example which some will say is as strong as steel. Give it a twist and watch it shatter. That’s because it is not as plastic or ductile as steel. Suffice to say, this wood is not as strong or stronger than steel. Strength is the property most associated with yield strength or the yield point which is the limit of elastic behavior and the beginning of plastic behavior. Steel can be stretched and wood cannot making steel “stronger” for the correct application of the term strength. What this team has done is to create wood that is tougher than some forms of steel which is to say it better resists brittle fracture.

This toughness is the only physical manner in which their wood can be measured superior to steel. As for the social and environmental superiority of their product they may have invented a very nice replacement for stabilized woods.


Rhino hair?


They called her “The Wooden Wonder”. Damn pretty good plane.


Counterpoint: The Spruce Goose