MIT Researchers Create Lab-Grown Wood That Could Save The Rainforests

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MIT Researchers Create Lab-Grown Wood That Could Save The Rainforests

While wood can be a very useful substance, and far less ecologically damaging than other construction materials, it is, unfortunately, the case that trees are not being replaced at the rate they are being cut-down.

The felling of tress also contributes to global-warming as trees are one of the main ways in which carbon-dioxide is removed from the atmosphere, that's not to mention the carbon-emissions released by the machinery used in logging and the carbon-dioxide released from the trees and their roots as they are removed from the ground. Therefore, the current logging industry poses a great danger to the global environment.

To combat this problem, scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have now developed a new technology that allows wood to be grown in labs.

Known as 'cultured-wood,' the wood creates far less of an environmental footprint than traditional logging practices and researchers hope that it will soon be used to produce whatever is required by industry or consumers.

The process is highly-specialised and involves taking cells from the zinnia plant and then using plant-hormones in order to kick-start a process in which the plant cells multiply themselves without the aid of sunlight.

Lead researcher, Ashley Beckwith, says that she came up with the idea of sustainable cultured-wood when she witnessed the huge waste in the agricultural industry, she told MIT news:

"That got me thinking: Can we be more strategic about what we're getting out of our process? Can we get more yield for our inputs? I wanted to find a more efficient way to use land and resources so that we could let more arable areas remain wild, or to remain lower production but allow for greater biodiversity."

Luis Fernando Velásquez-García, one of the assistant researchers, added:

"The way we get these materials hasn't changed in centuries and is very inefficient. This is a real chance to bypass all that inefficiency. The idea is not only to tailor the properties of the material, but also to tailor the shape from conception."

The idea of cultured-wood is somewhat similar to the process that is used to produce lab-grown meat, whereby cells are replicated in a laboratory to produce meat for consumption, but during which no animal is harmed.

While the process for producing lab-grown wood is currently very expensive, researchers point out that lab-grown meat has reduced in cost from $300,000 for 1 hamburger to just $12 in a very-short space of time. They therefore hope that cultured-wood will in time become an inexpensive and eco-friendly replacement to traditionally sourced wood.

[h/t: Truth Theory]

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Thinking Humanity: MIT Researchers Create Lab-Grown Wood That Could Save The Rainforests
MIT Researchers Create Lab-Grown Wood That Could Save The Rainforests
While wood can be a very useful substance, and far less ecologically damaging than other construction materials, it is, unfortunately, the case that
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