Aim of the project is to develop sustainable and efficient wood-based materials.
Wood is a material made from sustainable and renewable resources. Compared to metals such as steel and aluminum, as well as technical composites with plastics from fossil sources, carbon and glass fibers, wood contains much less embodied energy and it also stores CO2 from the atmosphere - for example, 1 kg of wood absorbs about 1.84 kg of carbon dioxide. Commercial use of wood thus contributes to the reduction of the greenhouse effect. With its natural hierarchical cell structure, wood can be processed into high-performance structural materials by hot pressing. However, components such as lignin and hemicellulose have to be partially removed beforehand. The fundamental challenge in this technique is to find a cost-effective, environmentally friendly and at the same time scalable pre-treatment of the wood as well as an energy-efficient thermomechanical processing route to the final component. IVW is developing suitable techniques for selective delignification of wood, focusing in particular on water-based biotechnological methods using environmentally friendly solvents. In order to make the best use of the structural performance of the treated wood, and also to achieve multifunctional properties, we develop bioinspired composites with nanocomposites using clean and energy-efficient thermomechanical processing technologies. Key parameters are, on the one hand, the regulation of the lignin and hemicellulose content in the wood through the innovative pretreatment process, and the right reactive binder in the wood laminate with polymers and functional nanoparticles. The resulting innovative material by far surpasses current unidirectional natural-fiber-reinforced composites with epoxy resin in mechanical properties, it can also be manufactured to be optically transparent, and it offers weathering resistance 14 times better than natural wood. The additional external hydrophobic coatings otherwise used for wood protection to permanently preserve the wood structure are unnecessary. The use of bio-based nanocomposites in the wood also results in improved interfacial adhesion and integrity of the new high-tech composite.