In my never-ending search for information about the best materials for furniture in our homes in Nuevo Vallarta, I come across fascinating articles. Recently, I found out about a new material that will be an eco-friendly alternative and will likely save us money on furniture and our electric bills.
Before I write about the new material, I want to cover what it will replace. Glass is commonly used for windows, patio doors and furniture around the world. There are six types of glass frequently chosen, based on the needs of the buyer. These include float, laminated, obscured, tempered, insulated and low-E glass.
Float glass is a very fragile material made from molten glass. Without reinforcement, it is weak and can easily break into large, dangerous shards. Laminated glass is stronger and safer. It is made using two pieces of float glass with a layer of polyvinyl butyral resin (PVB) between them. PVB resin is used in the manufacture of automobile windshields. Should the glass break, it will shatter and stick to the resin sheet.
Obscured glass, which includes tinted, etched, or beveled, is any glass you cannot see through. This type is great if you want light yet more privacy, like beachfront windows. Tempered glass is stronger than float glass but will still break. If you do accidentally break tempered glass, the pieces are smaller and less dangerous. This is another better option for our windows here.
Insulated glass has either double or triple pieces of glass with a space of argon or krypton between each. This space creates insulation and blocks heat rays from the sun. Low-E glass, which stands for low emissivity glass, blocks ultra-violet rays (UV rays). UV rays are what fades furniture and clothing and can cause damage to our skin.
Unfortunately, glass is not the most economical solution. Since heat easily transfers through glass, and we live in a hot, humid climate, energy bills can be expensive. Glass manufacturing plants generate thousands of metric tons every year in emissions, making it considerably less eco-friendly.
That is why a researcher in the United States has developed a new material. Would you believe it is made from wood? Wood from a fast-growing tree – the balsa tree – is bleached and then penetrated with a synthetic called PVA (polyvinyl alcohol). This process makes it transparent. Since this product includes cellulose and an energy absorbent polymer, it is lighter yet stronger than glass. It will not break as easily as glass, and instead of shattering, it bends and splinters.
When it comes to energy efficiency, transparent wood is made from a sustainable and renewable resource. Balsa trees are fast-growing, and manufacturing results in fewer gas emissions. It is about five times more thermally efficient, so it would also reduce energy costs.
Although they originated in the Americas, from southern Mexico to southern Brazil, balsa trees now grow worldwide. The word “balsa” comes from the Spanish word for “raft” since this wood was often used for this purpose. Even though the wood is quite soft, it is considered hardwood because it is a deciduous tree. Balsa trees can grow in a densely packed area and without fertilizer, making them an efficient resource.
If you would like to see what transparent wood looks like, check out a cool video on the blog of our website:www.solutionsmexico.com , or in the linked comment. Whether for furniture, windows or patio doors, this new material could become a better solution for our homes in Nuevo Vallarta.
Want to purchase furniture right the first time for your home in Nuevo Vallarta? We offer many solutions including turn-key furniture packages, shopping tours to Guadalajara/Tonala, rental furniture packages, and professional relocation services. Visit us at our Nuevo Vallarta/ Bucerias store: Av. Héroes de Nacozari 126, Zona Dorada (Open Mon through Fridays, 10 to 2).
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