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What makes timber strong and sturdy? Scientists find out the facts

 Tuesday, July 2, 2024

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what makes wood stronger?

As one of Australia’s leading timber suppliers, Narangba Timbers is always engaged with the latest timber research. Today, we have brought a compact discussion on what makes timber so strong and healthy? So, let’s delve deep into the matter.

While much of it is routine, occasionally Narangba Timbers comes across groundbreaking discoveries. This is one such occasion. Timber’s remarkable strength has long puzzled scientists, but recent research has provided new insights. A team from the Universities of Cambridge and Warwick has investigated the nano-properties of timber, potentially revolutionising the energy and construction industries.

So, what is this big find? It is the binding, glue-like binding relationship between two of the most abundant substances in plants, cellulose and xylan. They are found in the cell walls of plants and have been found to be the reason timber and some other plant materials are strong and indigestible.

Plant materials are often used for biofuel and to feed animals, but woody materials are not effective for either. This was the original driver of the research. These substances also help make up fibre in other plants, which are good for gut health. For the researchers to understand how these components make fibre so difficult to digest, they needed to investigate how the contents are “woven” together in fibre and timber.

Along with that, Cellulose has a rod-shaped structure, whereas xylan is characterised as a “long, winding polymer with sugars attached to one side of its central thread.” When xylan interacts with cellulose, it unwinds and attaches itself to the rod-shaped cellulose molecules. This interaction forms a bond that is resistant to all but the most extreme force or chemical disruption.

It means a lot for timber suppliers as it does open the door for a lot of advances in architecture as well.

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