Scientists say Liquid Wood Is Plastic of Tomorrow

January 19, 2009

(ChattahBox) — While plastic has proven to be extremely useful in the modern world, German scientists believe a new invention, liquid wood, could soon replace plastic in terms of everyday usefulness. Referred to as “liquid wood”, Arboform is a high-quality thermoplastic engineered material for applications that demand high technological standards. It combines the positive properties of natural wood with the processing capabilities of thermoplastic materials.

Why the need? Though it was one of the great innovations of the 20th century, plastic still has a number of negative selling points. It is non-biodegradable and can contain carcinogens and other toxic substances that can cause cancer. It is also based on petroleum, a non-renewable resource that will soon be harder to come by. Increases in the price of crude oil leads to parallel rises in the price of plastics.

But Arboform removes many of these long-standing concerns. Liquid wood is derived from wood pulp-based lignin (not needed in papermaking) and can be mixed with a number of other materials to create a strong, non-toxic alternative to petroleum-based plastics, as reported by the DPA news agency. Lignin is mixed with fine natural fibers made of wood, hemp or flax and natural additives such as wax. From this, they produce plastic granulate that can be melted and injection-moulded. The final product can resemble highly polished wood or have a more matted finish and look like the plastic used in most household items.

Car parts and other durable items made of this bio-plastic already exist, but the chemical hadn’t been suitable for household use until now, due to the high content of sulphurous substances used in separating the lignin from the cell fibers. The German researchers were able to reduce the sulphur content by about 90 percent, making it much safer for use in everyday items. Bolstering Arboform’s environmental credentials, researchers lead by Norbert Eisenreich, a senior researcher and deputy of directors at the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology (ICT) in Pfinztal, Germany, also discovered that the substance was highly recyclable.


One Response to “Scientists say Liquid Wood Is Plastic of Tomorrow”

  1. My Sustainability Project | Earth Friendly Design on February 26th, 2011 1:02 pm

    […] a wheel that has no air. You’ll have to see it to believe it. Arboform, or liquid wood a left over from the paper making proses, this forms into pellets that can be used just like […]

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