Print 77 comment(s) - last by doctor sam ada.. on Jun 16 at 2:52 PM

A picture of the new super strong paper. Its strength owes to its small fiber size.  (Source: American Chemical Society)
Up in the sky -- is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's super paper!

Some people can get a little sick of hearing about carbon nanotubes.  Sure, the little structures are strong, and bear a plethora of uses, but they're still expensive, so unfortunately their uses remain in the future.  However, a new, more affordable technology has been developed which revolutionizes an everyday material and will increase its strength to surprising levels.

The new technology, developed by researchers at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, takes ordinary cellulose and puts it through special processing.  The end result is a paper, made out of normal wood pulp that has an incredible tensile strength of 1.6 times that of iron.  The paper sports 214 MPa of tensile strength, easily trumping iron (130 MPa) and heavy duty paper (103 MPa).  Tensile strength helps to measure how resistant a material is to ripping, and how much weight it can support.

The new paper is composed of nano-sized whiskers of cellulose.  Cellulose, the crystalline polymer of glucose, is what makes up cell walls and makes plants so rigid.  On a nanoscale, cellulose fibers beat steel and glass in strength, but paper is composed of larger cellulose strands that are prone to breakage under stress.  Typical commercial paper has a tensile strength of a mere 30 MPa, indicating its weakness.

To make super paper, researchers first had to make the cellulose fibers super small.  Head researcher Lars Berglund used enzymes and mechanical beating to tear the cellulose fibers to a mere 1,000 of their original size.  Then the researchers added carboxymethanol, which coated the fibers in carbonyl groups.  These groups produced hydrogen bonds, further strengthening the material.

The research was published in the current issue of Biomacromolecules.

Mike Wolcott, a materials scientist and cellulose fiber expert at Washington State University in Pullman, labels the paper as "quite interesting".  He notes that the paper has large pores between fibers.  These pores make it dry quicker, saving in production costs and making manufacturing easier.  John Simonsen, a physical chemist and nanocrystalline cellulose expert at Oregon State University in Corvallis, adds that the new material is formed from the most abundant organic material on the planet, so even with the extra treatment it should be cost competitive against more exotic materials like carbon nanotubes.

The new paper may be even used in medical uses such as providing scaffolds for growing replacement tissues or organs.  However its most practical application may be as simple as the shopping bag.

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By KeithP on 6/11/2008 3:12:43 PM , Rating: 2
Finally, the age of reusable toilet paper is about to arrive!


RE: Cool
By jplb70 on 6/11/2008 3:43:07 PM , Rating: 2
You mean you're not supposed to reuse toilet paper? Since when?

RE: Cool
By Mystery Meat on 6/11/2008 3:58:48 PM , Rating: 3
If you really want to go green, use both sides of the toilet paper. Saves money, too.

RE: Cool
By FITCamaro on 6/11/2008 4:53:51 PM , Rating: 1

RE: Cool
By AstroCreep on 6/11/2008 5:43:10 PM , Rating: 5
That's not going "Green", that's going "Brown".

RE: Cool
By Choppedliver on 6/11/2008 6:05:18 PM , Rating: 3
Speaking of which, isn't it amazing that no matter what color of food you eat, it comes out brown. I'm not talking about foods saturated with FD&C yellow, green, blue, red, purple, etc...

The amazing human body

RE: Cool
By Noya on 6/11/2008 7:46:50 PM , Rating: 2
it comes out brown

Try eating a side of spinach 3x a day...

RE: Cool
By Nyamekye on 6/11/2008 9:22:59 PM , Rating: 2
Then, for every man, it comes out green.

RE: Cool
By doctor sam adams on 6/16/2008 2:52:25 PM , Rating: 2
it actually does come out green sometimes, the brown color is due to bile from the blood. however in some instances bile is lacking and poop comes out green.

RE: Cool
By BruceLeet on 6/12/2008 1:33:40 AM , Rating: 2
If you really want to be Green or Brown, whatever we're going for here you can rub newspaper together, but it will turn that Brown spot Black.

RE: Cool
By deeznuts on 6/11/2008 7:23:30 PM , Rating: 2
Eh welcome to the third world. Trust me, I've been there ...

RE: Cool
By SilentRunning on 6/11/2008 9:16:01 PM , Rating: 5
No, all we need is three shells and every restaurant will be Taco Bell.

RE: Cool
By Clauzii on 6/12/2008 1:09:51 AM , Rating: 2
And ratburgers :)

"Death Is Very Likely The Single Best Invention Of Life" -- Steve Jobs
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