Using Nanotechnology to Create More Sustainable and Functional Wood Products
Today, we face both a booming global population and alarming environmental deterioration. This has resulted in the need to develop sustainable materials to meet these ever-increasing demands.
Wood is a sustainable and renewable material that has been widely used in lumber, wood-based panel, and pulp. But traditional forest products cannot meet the multifunctional demands of today’s digital era.
Dr. Feng Jiang, Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Functional Biomaterials, is exploring new emerging nanotechnology that could transform sustainable forest biomass into advanced multifunctional materials that meet today’s needs.
Wood is composed of long, flexible cellulose nanofibrils that provide structural support. These are as strong as carbon and Kevlar fibres, and as thin as one ten-thousandth of a strand of human hair. Jiang and his research team are using advanced nanotechnology to isolate these high-performance cellulose nanofibrils from forest biomass so they can be assembled into more complex structures.
If cellulose nanofibrils could be isolated, they could serve as the primary building blocks in a wide range of applications, including chemical sensors for environmental toxins detection, ultralight and porous aerogel for water purification, strong fibres and nanocomposites for lightweight structural materials, and porous and transparent films and membranes for energy storage applications.
These novel materials will also help reduce our carbon footprint and create a more sustainable world.