Translucent wood – an innovative construction material of the future

French architect Timothée Boitouzet
French architect Timothée Boitouzet has developed a treatment that gives wood new properties. Photo Woodoo

French architect Timothée Boitouzet´s company, Woodoo has developed a treatment that gives wood new properties, amongst which the ability to become translucent stands out.

Boitouzet believes that the most important property of his wood is not rooted in aesthetics, but rather in strength. He believes that it is possible to build 36 story skyscrapers with it. The key to delivering these new properties resides in the young Frenchman’s patented method. According to Boitouzet wood is between 60% and 90% air. The materials strength is derived from the presence of lignin, an opaque substance. Boitouzet´s treatment extracts this biomolecule and replaces the air with a polymer mixture, which preserves the wood´s structural integrity while also allowing light to pass through the material. Substituting the air with the polymer makes the wood up to 10 times stronger.

At present, the treatment can be applied to wood panels of up to several centimeters in width. By 2017, Woodoo plans to commercialize woods for interior design applications, and within another two years they aim to sell products for building facades, roofs and floors. It will take longer to achieve wood beams and other structural elements. According to Boitouzet, by applying the cross-laminated timber (CLT) manufacturing approach, these beams would be just as resistant as concrete.

Source: Innovators under 35

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