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Balsa wood - the balance between softness and sturdiness

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24 June 2018
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Balsa wood - the balance between softness and sturdiness


Balsa wood - the balance between softness and sturdiness
Striking just the right balance between softness and sturdiness, balsa wood is a choice material for crafting anything from model airplanes to full-size wind turbine blades.

Scientists in the United States and China have opened up a new realm of possibilities for balsa by hijacking its natural structure with chemical and physical treatments to transform it into a "wood carbon sponge" capable of enduring repeated compression and other extreme mechanical conditions.

The authors achieved the bendable yet resilient architecture of the wood carbon sponge by using common chemicals to destroy the stiff hemicellulose and lignin fibers that maintain the normal cell-wall structure of the balsa wood.

The net effect of the process was to collapse the repeated, regular, rectangular pockets typical of the microstructure of balsa and other woods and replace them with a stack of wavy, interlocking, arch-like carbon sheets, likened by Hu to a cross between a coiled spring and a honeycomb.

Whereas normal carbonized wood, obtained from only the heating step without any chemical modifications, is so fragile that any reasonable applied force pulverizes it irreversibly into ash and dust, the wood carbon sponge withstood and rebounded from substantial compression for up to 10,000 consecutive trials before deformation set in.


Source article: https://www.sciencedaily.com
Source image: https://easybuiltmodels.com
April 10, 2018