Emily Tregidgo – emt2179
1) Sustainability Problem: Energy, materials
It is projected that the use of forests for timber and pulp will continue to increase in the coming years. Both timber production and pulp production can drive forest degradation and deforestation. For example, the development of “fast wood” (i.e. acacia) forests to meet increasing demand is one such driver. The practice of selective logging also drives forest degradation and deforestation. While wood can be a renewable resource if managed properly, our consumption of, demand for, and extraction of wood products can compromise the sustainability of our forests, their surrounding ecosystems, and in turn the systems that rely on these products (including the energy system).1
2) Sustainability Technology: Woodoo
- Woodoo removes air and lignin from wood and replaces it with a bio-based polymer, which enhances the wood’s performance. Woodoo is then able to sell the lignin to the specialty chemistry market to mitigate Woodoo’s costs.
- In terms of materials, Woodoo focuses on using wood from “unused, low-grade wood species.” The end product is a translucent wood material and the product is marketed as (amongst other things) sturdier, biobased, recyclable, and weather and fire-resistant. Woodoo states that the product has “strength profile of metal and the cost profile of low-grade wood.”
- The product is applicable for smart surfaces (and is touch-sensitive), particularly in the car and retail industries that are indexed on simultaneously decreasing their products’ weight, and improving their emissions profiles and customer experience.
- The product is also applicable to the construction industry – it is an alternative to premium wood (i.e. can reduce the use of endangered wood species) and can in some instances replace other materials such as concrete, glass, and steel.
- Car manufacturers
- Construction companies (particularly the materials sourcing team)
- Consumers (car owners/drivers, building tenants)
- Communities surrounding forests/areas with low-grade wood and the other wood sources Woodoo uses
- Specialty chemistry market (lignin purchasers)
4) The First Three Steps in Deploying This Technology
- Market the product to key consumers, such as car manufacturers and construction companies.
- Ensure that the material is up to building code and standards of other industries in which this may be used.
- Invest in additional use cases and encourage uptake of the product at the beginning of the construction cycle – many buildings and cars generally have a long asset life, and retro-fitting those assets presents a series of challenges.
6 thoughts on “Woodoo: A Wood Alternative”
Very Interesting! I like that woodoo uses “unused, low-grade wood species” because that would normally be discarded and this way there’s less waste and the whole resource is being used.
Found the following quote from the founder, “By replacing emissive primary building elements, Woodoo’s biomaterials will be 17 times less energy-intensive than glass, 130 times less than steel and 475 times less than aluminum.”
If the scale of production and cost can be competitive to these traditional forms of infrastructure, this is an absolute game changer. Given the touch screen capabilities, it can ultimately garner a higher price, in some regard.
I also love the fact that it is flame resistant, that could be huge for construction in areas prone to wildfire.
Very interesting technology – I will be curious to see how this can be used in the building construction space. One of the big pushes is to use timber as a lower-carbon, more sustainable building option: mass timber, and specifically cross-laminated timber has some of the characteristics that are touted as benefits of Woodoo’s material (including strength and cost).
This is really interesting. I wonder why this alternative is not a more known solution (probably because it is recent). I think the partnerships this company could have with other big vendors could really help it lift off. For a previous project I read about how rayon fabric is used in a lot of big companies like Uniqlo and this is not an eco-friendly sustainable solution because of its toxicity and contributions to deforestation. Maybe using the fabric from this particular solution could help resolve that. And it could actually hold fast-fashion companies accountable to claims of being “sustainable.”
Awesome technology! I am a big fan of modern looking interiors of cars and home. My one concern about this tech is the bio-based polymer that is being added. I didn’t find information on their website on how that bio-based polymer is created. How much of the polymer is actually bio-based, and the bio part from corn? A common down side of bio-based products that use food is that is drives food prices up. If it is a food based bio material then at scale it may cause high food prices.
Emily thanks for sharing information on this really interesting hybrid material that seems to have a lot of great sustainability upsides to it. It would be interesting to see how it gets integrated into things. My concern for implementation is similar to new materials intended for the fashion industry. According to SUMA’s Sustainability Fashion professor, some of these new materials have trouble going to market and scaling because the company doesn’t want to share the IP and also wants to control manufacturing of the material. Hopefully Woodoo won’t share the same fate.
Also I was reminded of reading this article: https://www.wired.com/story/nature-makes-wood-could-a-lab-make-it-better/ that shows how scientists recently made “lab grown wood.” similarly to “lab grown meat.” It such an interesting area where the line between “natural” and “synthetic” blurs.