Deforestation is a major problem in the world today, with it affecting so much of the world’s biodiversity, ecosystems, and climate.
Although it is well known that unchecked deforestation is one of the primary causes of recurrent heat waves,
droughts, and tsunamis,
a global forest survey finds that we have already eliminated 54% of all trees on Earth since the dawn of human civilization.
To make goods like paper, wax, medicines,
rubber, and furniture, we continue to cut down a lot of trees every day.
Some of these products are so essential to our way of life that we can’t even fathom life without them.
Does that imply that we will continue to cut down trees to satisfy our needs?
The world’s first 3D-printed lab-grown wood was the subject of a study that was then published in the journal Materials Today. The MIT scientist used this study to show that deforestation is no longer necessary to produce timber.
Making furniture without deforestation
The cells of Zinnia elegans, also known as common zinnia,
a flowering plant, were used by the study’s authors to make custom wood in their laboratory.
They asserted that they could bio-print wooden objects of any size and shape using their inventive method.
This implies that you can create a wooden table right from cells if you need one.
Therefore, there is no deforestation or waste, as is the case with traditional furniture
Common zinnia cells were given a liquid medium first, and then a gel solution, to achieve this.
The latter contained both nutrients and hormones.
The researchers were able to modify the stiffness,
strength, density, and several other physical and mechanical characteristics of the lab-grown plant matter by varying the hormone concentrations.
“(Our) recent work proposed a novel approach to generate 3D-printed,
tunable plant materials from cell cultures with the potential to reduce waste,
increase yields and production rates
, and reduce environmental disruption as cultures are generated from a non-sacrificial plant sample rather than whole plants,”
the authors wrote in their paper, highlighting the significance of their research.
The first step
Lead author Ashley Beckwith established FORAY bioscience
after completing her MIT research project to continue researching and developing new strategies for producing wood without logging.
This is just the first step; the current method,
which involves growing plant material from ordinary zinnia cells, is not ideal.
it is the first technique of its kind for creating plant matter in a lab. This technique has only ever been applied by scientists to the culture of animal cells.
Similar ideas have not been applied to the field of plant culture, especially regarding the production of materials.
The research team writes in their study,
“Thus, this work represents the first glimpse at a cellular agriculture approach to plant material generation.
Using the cells of trees like pine,
Beckwith and her team hope to 3D print lumber in a lab.