Here’s a little something I missed the other week: a Swedish research team are working to develop “nanopaper”, a material based on wood-pulp cellulose nanofibres that can be stronger than cast iron.
The new method involves breaking down wood pulp with enzymes and then fragmenting it using a mechanical beater. The shear forces produced cause the cellulose to gently disintegrate into its component fibres.
The end result is undamaged cellulose fibres suspended in water. When the water is drained away Berglund found that the fibres join together into networks held by hydrogen bonds, forming flat sheets of “nanopaper”.
So what, you may be thinking. Well, as Charlie Stross suggested, if the current generation of 3D-printing/fabrication systems (like RepRap) swapped the soft plastics they currently extrude with for the nanopaper formula:
“… the future may turn out to be made of papier maché.”
Anyone have any idea how recyclable this cellulose nanopaper would be by comparison to plastics or steel? [image by Tina Raval]