Will Carbon Fibre Grow on Trees?
Carbon fibre is one of the strongest materials on the plant today and is used in everything from airplane wings to business cards. One plant biologist says that in around 50 years time we’ll be growing it on trees.
With the help of modern high-tech biorefineries and genetics the team at the Biosciences Division at ORNL reckon these plants could be about to transform our civilisation again whilst being carbon neutral.
One-third of the tree’s weight comes from a substance called Lignin, a fibrous polymer that helps strengthen plant cell walls. In the past lignin has been a waste product in the production of ethanol, however with this new process the Scientists can melt it down and either make it into plastic or spin it into carbon fibres.