Wood as hard as concrete? Woodoo, the material of the future…

Posted on 21 January 2021.

In an eco-design approach a French architect has invented a wood-based material that could be used for tomorrow’s buildings.

Woodoo augmented wood consumes three times less energy than concrete, seventeen times less than glass, and one hundred and thirty times less than steel!

Its inventor says it is the material of the future. It looks like wood, but is hard as concrete and resistant as metal. By creating the start-up Woodoo in 2016, the architect Timothée Boitouzet wants to be the one that replaces concrete in the buildings of the future. 
In fact, concrete generates tons and tons of CO2. It is responsible for 7 to 8% of global CO2 emissions (2.9% of emissions in France). The cause is cement, one of the main components in concrete, which produces a lot of emissions. This material is the result of high-temperature firing at around 1,450 °C. When heated, cement releases carbon dioxide.

Wood, on the other hand, has the particularity of absorbing CO2 through photosynthesis. Better still, this sequestration process continues even when a tree is cut down - which makes the Woodoo initiative even more interesting. For example, whereas 1,000 metric tons of concrete produces 600 metric tons of carbon, wood absorbs 980 metric tons.
In addition, concrete buildings use a lot of sand. It takes nearly 200 metric tons for a medium-sized house, 3,000 metric tons for a hospital, and 30,000 metric tons for 1 km of highway. These staggering figures force us to rethink construction techniques by turning to novel and renewable materials, such as wood.

"Augmented wood"

Woodoo looks like wood, but its composition has been modified to give it new properties. The process consists of removing one of its main constituent molecules, lignin. that impregnates the walls of the wood fibers and gives it its rigidity.
The lignin is then replaced by a plant resin, which hardens inside the wood's "skeleton" – inside the fibers. The plant resin then gives the wood new physical and optical properties, making it translucent, rot-proof, malleable and fire-resistant.

Timothée Boitouzet talks about "augmented wood". Its advantage? It requires less maintenance than conventional wood because it doesn’t oxidize when in contact with air and humidity. What’s more, according to the first results of the material life cycle analysis, Woodoo consumes three times less energy than concrete, seventeen times less than glass, and one hundred and thirty times less than steel.
This new eco-designed material should make it possible to build stronger and more energy-efficient wooden buildings that have absorbed atmospheric CO2. Its inventor, believes it’s a great basis for building the skyscrapers of the future.