The wooden blade is nearly three times sharper than a conventional knife, so it can cut through meat just as well as stainless steel. It was developed by researchers at the University of Maryland using a new hardening process that made it 23 times stronger than usual wood. It’s also environmentally friendly. Wood processing techniques such as steaming and compression have been around for centuries, but they cannot withstand the same amount of pressure and tension as other strong manmade materials.
What is their secret?
Teng Li, the senior author of the study, says cellulose is the main component of wood and has a higher strength-to-density ratio than metal, ceramics and other engineered materials. Despite this, wood is rarely used to its full potential. Only 40 to 50 percent of the wood is cellulose, so the rest is made up of hemicellulose and lignin, which reduce its strength. Scientists have developed a two-step method that removes wood’s weaker components without damaging its cellulose structure. The first step is to partially delignify the wood, making it soft, flexible and squishy. Researchers applied pressure using a hot press in the second step, allowing the wood to densify and remove moisture.
it is echo-friendly!
In addition, unlike ceramics, this process only involves boiling wood in a chemical bath for a few hundred degrees, when compared to ceramics that requires metal to be melted at thousands of degrees. Chemicals can be reused to make more batches of the same product, thus eliminating waste. Li added, ‘In our kitchen, we have many wood pieces that we use for a very long time, like a cutting board, chopsticks, or a rolling pin. These knives, too, can be used many times if you resurface them, sharpen them, and perform the same regular upkeep’.
Material is transformed into a shape of their liking, then coated with mineral oil that maintains its sharpness even after washing. Researchers examined the processed wood under a microscope to understand its source of strength and found that the two-step process considerably reduced the defects in natural wood, eliminating the channels, voids and pits. This process, researchers claim, will also make wooden nails as sharp as steel ones while also preventing them from rusting.