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Posted: March 19, 2007
Turning wood into a thermal battery
(Nanowerk News) A nano-engineering breakthrough in the most commonly used material – wood – in the most-polluting segment of the economy – housing – has the potential to slow or reverse global warming.
Housing uses more fossil fuel than cars in America – so it is an obvious target for Silicon Valley’s emerging Greentech industry, but 94% of American houses are made of low-tech material- wood.
A new nanobiotechnology to alter wood at the molecular level has been named among the top 25 Inventions of "2007 in the Modern Marvels Invent Now Challenge", to be announced at 10:30am on Thursday March 22nd at the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose.
The Enertia® Building System, invented by Michael Sykes, has been chosen as one of 25 Semi-Finalists in the 2007 Modern Marvels Invent Now Challenge. The Challenge is a contest to find America’s next great invention idea-and help bring it to life. The Challenge is sponsored by the History Channel, Invent Now, Inc. TIME Magazine, and Lexus. Sykes was selected from 2,200 entries based on the criteria of: 1) A technological Breakthrough 2) Cleverness, and 3) Historical significance. The top five winners will be announced at Citigroup Center in New York City on May 11th.
Michael Sykes’ invention, U.S. Patent No. 6,933,016, is technology to turn wood into a thermal battery. Zeolitic seed crystals are injected into the wood, altering the molecular structure at a nanolevel, so there is no change in appearance or structural properties. Thus wood is no longer just a structural member, or just a decorative trim or paneling – it becomes a solar energy storing device, and when the house is properly configured and sited it can heat and cool itself.
The company Enertia® Building Systems has developed a line of Gluelam wood-wall homes to maximize the energy-storing potential, and to offer the mainstream appearance necessary to attract traditional frame-housing buyers. Because these homes ‘sequester carbon’ in their massive wood walls, as well reduce carbon pollution from the burning of fossil fuels, they caught the attention of the Modern Marvels judges- who were looking for breakthrough inventions with global potential.
Starting March 22nd, an exhibit of the Top 25 Modern Marvels inventions will travel to science museums across the country, starting at The Tech in San Jose.