Research press release





今回、Liangbing Huたちの研究グループは、圧縮前に木材を処理するという新たな方法を開発した。これによって、既存の製造プロセスで圧縮された木材だと脆弱化する多湿条件下にあっても木材の寸法安定性と機械的特性が大きく向上する。Huたちは、木材の加熱圧縮処理を行う前にリグニン成分とヘミセルロース成分を一部除去することで、木材をより効果的に圧縮し、厚さを80%減、密度を約3倍増とした。リグニンとヘミセルロースを完全に除去してしまうと木材の質が低下するため、木材を結合させるためにはリグニンの一部を保持する必要がある、とHuたちは考えている。得られた材料は、強度、靭性、耐弾性に優れていると同時に、他の多くの構造材料と比べて耐湿性が高く、軽量で、処理が簡単でその費用も安く、製造の際の環境破壊も少ない。

A simple way to transform bulk natural wood into a high-performance structural material - with impressive strength, toughness and ballistic resistance - is described in a paper published in this week’s Nature. This densified (compressed) wood is intrinsically light and delivers a specific durability higher than almost all structural metals and alloys.

Synthetic structural materials with exceptional mechanical performance are often heavy and environmentally harmful (steels and alloys) or expensive (polymer-based and biomimetic composites) to produce. Conversely, natural wood is a low-cost and abundant material that has been used for millennia as a structural material for building and furniture construction. However, its mechanical performance is unsatisfactory for many advanced engineering structures and applications.

Liangbing Hu and colleagues developed a method of treating wood before densification that substantially enhances its dimensional stability and mechanical properties - even in humid conditions where wood densified using existing processes is susceptible to weakening. The authors show that by partially removing lignin and hemicellulose components before hot-pressing it, they can compress the wood more effectively, with an 80 per cent reduction in thickness and around three times the density. Complete removal of lignin and hemicellulose produces a poor-quality material, so the authors suggest that some of the lignin must be retained to bind the wood. The resulting material shows impressive strength, toughness and ballistic resistance while being humidity-resistant, lightweight, simple and inexpensive to process, and less environmentally damaging to produce than many other structural materials.

doi: 10.1038/nature25476

「Nature 関連誌注目のハイライト」は、ネイチャー広報部門が報道関係者向けに作成したリリースを翻訳したものです。より正確かつ詳細な情報が必要な場合には、必ず原著論文をご覧ください。

メールマガジンリストの「Nature 関連誌今週のハイライト」にチェックをいれていただきますと、毎週最新のNature 関連誌のハイライトを皆様にお届けいたします。