Who wood-of thunk it

Plastics from trees.Plastics from trees.

Might your next excavator come with wood-based body panels? It may very well be and very soon.

Wood pulp is being hailed as the new miracle material in this article from the New Scientist. And this isn’t just lab results. Production is ongoing. IBM and Pioneer Electronics are already using the material, called “nanocrystaline cellulose” (NCC) in components and products.

NCC is created by treating any type of wood pulp, including ground up twigs, branches and sawdust, to remove impurities and form a pulp which is molded into sheet goods. When cured NCC panels have eight times the strength-to-weight ratio of stainless steel, conduct electricity and they are “incredibly” cheap.

A factory in Canada is already producing  more than a ton of NCC a day. Because NCC comes from a renewable source, scientists speculate that it could very well replace most petroleum based plastics within a few years. And since nobody has said it yet, I will–the United States and Canada are the Saudi Arabia of trees.