Lab-grown wood for furniture-making could cut CO2 emissions

WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:

  • Scientists are working on a lab-grown wood that can be used for furniture making.
  • If successful and widely adopted, the use of the alternative wood can also likely reduce CO2 emissions.
  • The study would also be a powerful first step towards finding alternatives to forestry.

Times are changing. There could be lab-grown wooden furniture anytime soon, trailing the release of lab-grown meat.

A group of scientists at MIT is working on a study about lab-produced furniture. The process is nearly identical with the procedure of cell-cultured meat — cultivating cells to divide and multiply into forms outside of their parent phylum.

A leaf from a zinnia enabled the scientists to selectively grow plant-like tissues, free from unnecessary organs, according to Velásquez-García and team.

The plant cells’ responsiveness to “tenability” worked in favor of the scholars. This turnaround made the land-free cultivation of plant material like a wood used in furniture manufacturing highly possible — even easier than culturing meat as plants are much easier to grow in the process.

“Despite considerable and early resource investment, (imagine the cost of buying, fueling, and operating logging trucks and roads alone) only a small fraction of the cultivated crop may be economically valuable at harvest,” the authors said in their paper.

The researchers also noted that only two to four percent of the harvested plant matter will be used in production of some natural fibers.

If successful, the study is a powerful first step towards finding alternatives to forestry.

Ashley Beckwith, an engineering PhD student and co-author of the paper, explains the inefficiencies of relying on forested trees for lumber production.

“Trees grow in tall cylindrical poles, and we rarely use tall cylindrical poles in industrial applications,” she told Fast Company. “So you end up shaving off a bunch of material that you spent 20 years growing and that ends up being a waste product.”

If the scientists’ proof-of-concept study will be widely adopted, the experiment could hugely reduce CO2 emissions, including deforestation which is a major contributor of CO2 secretion into the atmosphere.

The CO2 sources that could be diminished include fueling and driving heavy cargo trucks up logging roads at low speeds, as well as fueling and manufacturing the vehicles to construct the logging roads, and the manufacturing plants that make both, as well as the vehicles that transport the equipment.

Source: Good News Network

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