Cientistas suecos inventam a madeira transparente: ela pode substituir o vidro e reduzir custo de painéis solares

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CRÔNICAS DA ESCANDINÁVIA
Por Claudia Wallin, para a BBC Brasil
Pesquisadores suecos acabam de criar a madeira transparente, que poderá substituir o vidro na fabricação de estruturas como janelas e fachadas – e principalmente reduzir de forma significativa os custos de produção de painés solares. Dentro de alguns anos, será possível até transformar as próprias janelas e paredes de casas e edifícios em painés solares.
É a versão futurista da madeira, um dos melhores e mais baratos materiais de construção do mundo.
O novo material foi desenvolvido pelo Real Instituto de Tecnologia sueco (Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan – KTH), com sede na capital sueca.
“A madeira transparente é um excelente material para substituir o vidro na confecção de painés solares, uma vez que ela é produzida a partir de um recurso barato, abundante e renovável”, disse à BBC Brasil o pesquisador Lars Berglund, chefe do Centro Wallenberg de Ciências da Madeira no KTH.
“Trata-se portanto de um material particularmente importante para reduzir os custos de implantação de painés solares em superfícies extensas, o que pode beneficiar regiões com boas condições climáticas para o uso da energia solar, como o Brasil”, acrescenta ele.
Para criar a madeira transparente, os pesquisadores suecos desenvolveram um processo químico de remoção da lignina, um componente natural da parede celular da madeira.
“Quando a lignina é removida, a madeira se torna branca. A superfície porosa branca é então revestida com um polímetro transparente com propriedades óticas”, explica Lars Berglund.
O efeito de transparência é obtido através de tecnologias de manipulação em nanoescala, ou seja, em escala atômica e molecular.
O resultado é uma lâmina de madeira natural, mas visualmente transparente.

Foto: Peter Larsson
Foto: Peter Larsson
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
A descoberta sueca foi publicada na revista científica da Sociedade Americana de Química (American Chemical Society), a Biomacromolecules.
Embora a madeira transparente já tenha sido desenvolvida anteriormente em escala microcópica, para fins de estudo da anatomia da madeira, a pesquisa sueca desenvolveu pela primeira vez um método para a utilização do material em escala comercial.
Na pesquisa sueca, a madeira transparente foi fabricada a partir da madeira do pinheiro e do pau de balsa.
“Mas qualquer tipo de árvore pode ser usada, e já planejamos trabalhar com diferentes tipos de madeira”, diz Berglund.
A madeira é de longe o material mais usado em diferentes tipos de construção, observa o pesquisador. Além de ser um recurso renovável, também oferece excelentes propriedades mecânicas, como a resistência, a baixa densidade – que conferere leveza ao material – e a baixa condutividade térmica, que proporciona bom isolamento diante de mudanças extremas de temperatura.
Com a nova madeira transparente, espera-se reduzir significativamente os custos energéticos. O estudo sueco destaca que o uso de energia em casas e edifícios, que inclui luz elétrica, condicionadores de ar e aquecimento de água, representa aproximadamente entre 30 e 40% do consumo total de energia.
“É portanto de grande importância reduzir o consumo de energia no setor de construção. Neste contexto, a energia solar é bastante atraente, uma vez que é uma energia limpa, gratuita e inesgotável”, diz o estudo.
Entre as aplicações futuras da madeira transparente, o pesquisador sueco destaca que será possível construir janelas, paredes e fachadas de casas que sejam, ao mesmo tempo, painés solares.
O pesquisador sueco (Foto: Peter Larsson
O pesquisador sueco Lars Berglund                                                                           (Foto: Peter Larsson)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
“Para isto, precisaremos desenvolver nossas pesquisas a fim de aprimorar a técnica e o grau de transparência da madeira necessários para tal”, diz Berglund.
Em lugares de clima frio, o uso da madeira transparente nas construções também permitirá que a energia solar seja aproveitada para o aquecimento das casas – no mesmo princípio das estufas de plantas -, reduzindo assim o consumo de energia.
Painés de madeira transparente poderão ser usados ainda na confecção de janelas e fachadas de casas semitransparentes, com o propósito de trocar a luz artificial pela luz natural e ao mesmo tempo manter a privacidade dos ambientes.
“Mas é possível construir janelas inteiramente transparentes com o novo material”, diz Berglund.
O próximo passo dos pesquisadores do KTH será desenvolver o grau de transparência da madeira, e aperfeiçoar o processo de produção do novo material. Lars Berglund calcula que a fabricação da madeira transparente em escala comercial poderá ser iniciada dentro dos próximos anos:
“Já demonstramos que é possível fabricar a madeira transparente, em escala laboratorial. Agora, serão necessários investimentos para iniciar a produção comercial do novo material. E também desenvolver a técnica para que, nos próximos anos, também possamos transformar as próprias janelas e paredes das casas em painés solares.”
5 de Abril de 2016
Leia também –  Não ao desperdício: Dinamarca inaugura supermercado que só vende alimentos “vencidos” 
 

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