“Wood pulp extract stronger than carbon fiber or Kevlar”
The Forest Products Laboratory of the US Forest Service has opened a US$1.7 million pilot plant for the production of cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) from wood by-products materials such as wood chips and sawdust. Prepared properly, CNCs are stronger and stiffer than Kevlar or carbon fibers, so that putting CNC into composite materials results in high strength, low weight products. In addition, the cost of CNCs is less than ten percent of the cost of Kevlar fiber or carbon fiber. These qualities have attracted the interest of the military for use in lightweight armor and ballistic glass (CNCs are transparent), as well as companies in the automotive, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, and medical industries.
This is a promising development in the future of renewable materials. Currently, carbon fiber is the leading body part and structural component widely used in racing and high-end automobiles because of its light weight and structural rigidity. It’s slowly making its way into the mass-manufacturing arena but carbon fiber still retains a measure of exclusivity. Unfortunately, it does pose some environmental disadvantages because it is not recyclable and is primarily made of petrochemcial products.