What if the wood your house was made of could save your electricity bill? In the race to save energy, using a passive cooling method that requires no electricity and is built right into your house could save even chilly areas of the US some cash. Now, researchers at the University of Maryland and the University of Colorado have harnessed nature’s nanotechnology to help solve the problem of finding a passive way for buildings to dump heat that is sustainable and strong.
Wood solves the problem—it is already used as a building material, and is renewable and sustainable. Using tiny structures found in wood—cellulose nanofibers and the natural chambers that grow to pass water and nutrients up and down inside a living tree—that specially processed wood has optical properties that radiate heat away. The results of this study were published May 9 in the journal Science.
“This work has greatly extended the use of wood towards high performance energy efficient applications and provided a sustainable route to combat the energy crisis,” said Northeast Forestry University Professor Jian Li, a member of Chinese Academy of Engineering, who is not associated with the research.