Transparent wood could become an environmentally friendly substitute for glass or plastic used in car windshields, transparent packaging and biomedical devices, according to a new study, writes

A study published in the journal Science of The Total Environment suggests that transparent wood reduces environmental impact due to its renewable and biodegradable properties. It is also economically beneficial, as it is five times more efficient than glass, which allows you to significantly reduce electricity costs.

Transparent wood will soon be able to replace plastic

According to the UN Environment Program, about 400 million tons of plastic waste is generated annually in the world, while the share of single-use plastic that is used and then thrown away is increasing. Now transparent wood is becoming one of the most promising substitute materials.

Transparent wood was first produced in 1992 by German scientist Siegfried Fink and has since been refined by other researchers and is made by removing the lignin content of wood and replacing it with transparent, plastic materials. Lignin is a natural biopolymer that supports plant tissue; unlike plastic, it is biodegradable and non-toxic.

“Plastics are used as a substitute for glass which is (naturally) fragile. However, transparent wood is an even better alternative from an ecological perspective as observed in our life-cycle analysis,” said Prodyut Dhar, study author and associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology’s biochemical engineering school.

According to the authors, production of transparent wood using sodium chlorite to remove lignin from wood and infiltrating it with epoxy infiltration had far less environmental impacts than commonly used methods that rely on the use of methacrylate polymer.

Analysis of the deadline shows that transparent wood is less environmentally friendly than glass, but still better than polyethylene production, indicating the need to improve the production technology, the authors of the study note.