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Home insulation in the summer is extremely important in a world with a energy crisis like ours. Double glazed windows, insulating paint, insulated walls have all been used for an effective obstruction to a heat wave but more insulation is needed as temperatures climb worldwide.
Wood is a natural insulator of heat and so much so that researchers at Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research, Wilhelm-Klauditz-Institut, WKI in Braunschweig have figured out a cool way to make foam out of wood that is a better insulator than plastic foam or any other foam for that matter.
The process is simple, the wood is ground in to very fine particles and they form a quasi solid mass. They are then fluidized with the help of some gas and expanded until frothy. The process ends when a foam is formed and then it is hardened and baked until it becomes a solid porous mass of wood. The hardening is aided by some natural chemicals found in the wood. The process basically changes the structure of the wood to make it a more effective insulator.
Since the structure is biodegradable, it is a welcome alternative to plastic polymers that are more or less not disposable. It can also be recycled effectively to make paper, or pulp. The aforementioned Institute for Wood Research is currently experimenting with different types of trees to find the optimum type of foam with the best insulating and mechanical properties.