Transparent wood rejects heat
The researchers have been working with larger blocks of treated linden wood and have discovered that while the wood transmits only slightly less light than conventional glass, it offers surprisingly good UV resistance. The wood transmits significantly less heat than standard glass, meaning that it could offer superior energy efficiency.
The research team constructed a tiny house, using a transparent wood panel in the structure’s ceiling. The panel transmitted light evenly around the structure, but did not permit any significant buildup of heat, as would be expected with traditional glass. Because the transparent wood channels light in a different way, the distribution of light stays constant, even as the angle of the sun changes during the day. In addition to offering UV resistance, the transparent wood is not prone to shattering.
The transparency of the wood changes depending upon how the wood is cut. The researchers have focused their efforts on wood that has been cut against the grain, since it offers the best light control. Transparent wood has a slight haze to it, so it is not perfectly clear. The wood “glass” allows light transmission, but offers some privacy. The transparency of the glass could be modified by changing the angle of the cut, relative to the wood’s natural grain.
Controlling UV radiation is critical to improving energy efficiency and the overall comfort of an interior space. While there’s no way to know if or when transparent wood will be marketed, you can use other strategies to minimize solar heat gain through glass.
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Photo Credit: Penn State Environmental Inquiry, via Flickr.com