|Spelljammer spaceship from the Spelljammer Wiki|
You think I’m joking, right? Sorry, I’m not. What’s even better is that we are practically there.
I was reading Science Daily, my go-to source for keeping up (yeah, right) with new scientific findings. Scientists at the University of Maryland have developed a process that makes wood stronger than steel, and stronger than some titanium alloys.
The wood created is less expensive than the equivalent strength of steel, titanium, or carbon fiber. Part of the cost reduction is due to how inexpensive it is to grow plants by comparison with mining, part is to do with the process itself as compared to refining ore, alloying, and shaping it. And since any source of cellulose can be used (sorry folks, not cellulite), you could get it from fast-growing plants.
Steel is used widely. Titanium is used less widely, mostly in Aerospace applications. The iconic Avro Arrow was the first airplane to make widespread use of titanium. Since then titanium has become common in military aircraft. This material could replace most uses of steel and titanium.
Just think. Wooden cars which are lighter than steel cars and therefore can accelerate faster and use less fuel. Wooden buildings which require smaller structural supports. Wooden airplanes which use less fuel. Wooden everything in time. And all of it less expensive and more efficient.
Unfortunately, the paper is behind a paywall, so I wasn’t able to check what temperatures the material can handle which would be the limiting factor for a lot of applications. But first run materials often have limits that later materials don’t. Since they have mentioned using the material in aircraft using it in spacecraft (and spacesuits) would be the next logical step.
So Wooden Spaceships and Wooden Spacesuits are just around the corner! And by reducing spacecraft and suit weight, the amount of cargo carried can increase, or the fuel load decrease, or the craft can be sent further.
Isn’t that neat?
May 19, 2018