We all are aware that culture wood can become a more efficient as well as eco-friendly alternative to logging. Consequently, MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) has taken the initiative of lab-grown wood for multi-purpose usage.
Moreover, the co-dependence of wood and humans go a long way back. Humans started creating safe and strong habitation from wood over 10,000 years ago. We also used wood as a prime source of fuel for an even longer period of time.
Historically the wood has come from one single place- a plant. However, the researchers of MIT believe that we need to find another source for wood-based products. As a result, they have tapped a new source through Petri dishes to generate lab-grown wood.
The team of researchers at MIT thinks that growing wood from the plant cells inside a laboratory is a great possibility. Furthermore, the scientists are more convinced by this idea because they believe it is similar to growing meat from animal cells. In short, lab-grown wood might be a success just like lab-grown meat.
To demonstrate the technique of lab-grown wood, the researchers have paved new methodologies. Moreover, MIT can transform the lumber industry if they can develop an entire process accurately.
Luis Fernando Velasquez Garcia, a researcher at MIT, has recently informed, that the method of procuring and using natural resources is ancient and inefficient. Subsequently, they are working to bypass the inefficiency and offer an eco-friendly approach. Lab-grown wood might be the first step towards sustainable living.
Can Lab-Grown Wood Solve Logging Problems?
The process to get a two-by-four piece of log is prolonged and environmentally harmful. A person has to grow a tree then cut it down. After that, the tree is transported to a sawmill factory to chop it into smaller pieces. Finally, the log reaches the local supply stores.
We do not have the exact figure of trees logged each year. Nonetheless, 2019 research has shown that logging is one of the leading sources of carbon emissions across the planet. Several forms of emissions are generated from the machinery that is used in the logging process.
In addition, the trees and their roots also release some amount of carbon dioxide after they are cut down. This is because as long as the trees are alive, the carbon dioxide remains stored inside the plant body.
Furthermore, traditional logging methods are inefficient and generate a lot of waste. Some felled branches and leaves end up in the trash piles or burnt. Lab-grown wood can solve logging issues. Besides, it can bring several additional benefits for the lumber industry.
MIT’s Revolutionary Approach
Velasquez-Garcia has stated that we should grow our own table if we want one. He further explained that plant cells are like stem cells. Both the cells can easily change into the cells it is induced to.
The initial cost of lab-grown meat was $300,000. Now we have a lab-grown meat patty at $12. We can expect similar revolutionary changes in lab-grown wood as well.
The granular chemicals of wood are lignin, hemicelluloses, and cellulose.
Lignin provides a firmness to wood that is an important feature for building purposes. Consequently, the team of MIT had published a study on lignin and its significance.
Researchers have to extract live cells from the leaf of the zinnia plant and place it in a liquid to encourage its growth and multiplication. This is how researchers have to produce lab-grown wood.
Eventually, the cells are placed in a gel mixed with 2 hormones. The researchers can control the production of lignin by adjusting the hormone levels. This provides an opportunity to get the desired shape in the lab-grown wood.