Researchers in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Maryland have developed hardwood knives it is three times sharper than stainless steel ones. To achieve this feat, they treated the wood using a special method, who has been published in the review Question.
While it may seem like such a futile effort as reinventing the wheel, researchers have good reason to attempt a new development. Classically used materials, such as steel and ceramics, are not only made by complex processes, but are also energy intensive. Both of these materials have to go through furnaces that reach thousands of degrees burning fossil fuels and increasing carbon emissions. Therefore, a “greener” method is always welcome.
Teng Li, the main author of the article, Explain that wood cellulose has a higher strength-to-density ratio than commercially used materials such as ceramics, polymers and even metals. However, the way we use wood does not allow it to reach its full potential. Besides cellulose, wood also contains lignin and hemicellulose which perform other functions but weaken wood when used as a material.
Li and his team therefore used a two-step process to strengthen it. In the first step, the wood was heated in a chemical bath at 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius) which removes the lignin. The wood ended up being very soft and spongy after being treated in a heat press to remove water. As a result, the wood was now 23 times harder than regular untreated wood, the researchers said.
Treated wood can now be carved into desired shapes and is coated with mineral oil to increase its life. The knife made by the researchers went through several wash cycles in the sink and even in the dishwasher, but did not give up its edge, the researchers reported.
The team also made nails using the same technique and found their performance comparable to steel. They claim to have hammered three planks of wood with the wooden nails and found that the nails were not damaged at all. What makes this more exciting is that unlike steel nails, hardwood nails do not rust. The researchers also plan to use this method to develop more wear-resistant hardwood flooring.
“In our kitchen we have many pieces of wood that we have been using for a very long time, like a cutting board, chopsticks or a rolling pin,” says Li. “These knives can also be used multiple times if you redo them. surface, sharpen them and perform the same regular maintenance. “
Research shows that there are sustainable alternatives to many synthetic materials if we look closely enough.