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Scientists Create Water- and Fire-Resistant Synthetic Wood from Shrimp Shells

Chemists at the University of Science and Technology of China have created synthetic wood using materials derived from the shells of shrimps and crabs:

To create the synthetic wood, scientists took a solution of polymer resin and added a pinch of chitosan, a sugar polymer derived from the shells of shrimp and crabs. They freeze-dried the solution, yielding a structure filled with tiny pores and channels supported by the chitosan. Then they heated the resin to temperatures as high as 200 degrees Celsius to cure it, forging strong chemical bonds. ...
Unlike natural wood, the new material does not require years to grow. Moreover, it readily repels water—samples soaked in water and in a strong acid bath for 30 days scarcely weakened, whereas samples of balsa wood tested under similar conditions lost two thirds of their strength and 40 percent of their crush resistance. The new material was also difficult to ignite and stopped burning when it was removed from the flame.

Read the rest over at Scientific American.

Image: Zhi-Long Yu et al., Science Advances vol 4. no. 8, Aug 10, 2018


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