“Liquid wood” – the future of our planet

Nowadays, everyone wants to be eco-friendly. Many people try to recycle, minimize the use of plastic or purchase only 100% recyclable products. We will do anything for our Mother Earth. What if I told you that we could diminish the use of regular plastic and substitute it with organic, biodegradable material that is as durable as regular plastic?

Plastic was one of the greatest innovations of the 20th century.

But why exactly is plastic bad?
Plastic was one of the greatest innovations of the 20th century. It substituted many thingsunder-flow-1024x682 such as glass, natural fibers, rubber, paper and many more. Above-mentioned renewable resources were substituted by plastic. Why, many might ask. Plastic actually has its positives. It can save energy, fresh air, waterways… the list carries on.  However, is it really that great? Plastic is non-biodegradable, can contain toxic substances and is based on petroleum, which, as a matter of fact, is a non-renewable resource that is scarce. Why should we use plastic then if it causes more harm than good?

Liquid what?
Liquid wood (Arboform is the official scientific name) is paper by-product. It is derived from wood pulp-based lignin invented at the Faunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology (ICT) in Pfinztal,liquid-wood-ed01 Germany. How exactly is it created?
“The cellulose industry separates wood into its three main components – lignin, cellulose and hemicellulose,” says ICT team leader Emilia Regina Inone-Kauffmann. “The lignin is not needed in papermaking, however. Our colleagues mix that lignin 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.” she carries on.

Liquid wood is paper by-product.

In short, during the production of paper there is a by-product that normally is not used during manufacturing processes. This product can be used to produce organic, recyclable, green plastic! It can substitute all of the traditional polymers, even those used in the production of food products.

A bike with a frame completely made out of liquid wood.

Why are we not funding this?
Many of you may ask, why are we not using it every day? Even though, the innovation has been present on the market for more than 20 years, it is still relatively expensive to produce. It is only profitable for companies that produce paper as the by-product can it be used for production. For traditional plastic producing companies, it is still cheaper to produce regular plastic. Nevertheless, some eco-friendly companies are already using this product. An example can be found at a company working together with WWF. The company is called WWF Jugend and produces a bike with a frame completely made out of liquid wood. In the future, it is forecasted that more and more plastic materials will be substituted by liquid wood.b2d3e487dcac0bb3e6b941da46feb974

Author: Zuzanna Glogowska

Photo sources: www.batitech.ch, www.inhabitat.com, www.utaot.com, www.wwf-jugend.de

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