A group of Swedish scientists have developed a new foam material that could soon replace Styrofoam around the world.
The new foam, dubbed Cellufoam, is wood-based. It offers compatible properties to Styrofoam.
“But even better, it is from a totally renewable resource—something that we can produce from the forest,” Lars Wågberg, a professor in Fibre Technology at Stockholm’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology, told Phys.
He developed Cellufoam along with Lennart Bergström, professor in Material Chemistry at Stockholm University, and Nicholas Tchang Cervin, a former PhD student at KTH, in the Wallenberg Wood Science Center.
Cellufoam production begins with wood cellulose nanofibers, which are then modified and mixed with a foaming water agent and air. Through the process of Pickering stabilization, these particles stabilize the air-bubbles in a way that is much better than by using simple surfactants.
The first item they’ve produced using Cellufoam is a bicycle helmet.
“There are wood helmets out there, but what is unique here is that this one is made totally out of forest products—nothing else. The outer layer is veneer, the straps are made from extra strong paper, and then the foam is made from cellulose fibers,” Wågberg said.