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Data Storage Science

Paper Stronger Than Cast Iron 327

TaeKwonDood writes "All paper is made of cellulose, which at the nanoscale level is quite strong, but paper processing makes large, fragile fibers that break easily. Researchers in Sweden have have come up with a manufacturing process that keeps the fibers small, resulting in 'nanopaper' with over 1.6 times the tensile strength of cast iron (214 megapascals vs. 130 mPa). And since cellulose is the most abundant organic compound on the planet, it's cheap to use compared to other exotic, expensive-to-produce options — such as carbon nanotubes."
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Paper Stronger Than Cast Iron

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  • by Chas ( 5144 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @11:25PM (#23719387) Homepage Journal
    Or treatable to be fire-resistant?

    I can see a lot of uses for it even if it isn't. But I can see some fairly awe-inspiring ones if it's possible.
  • by mazarin5 ( 309432 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @11:47PM (#23719677) Journal
    I suddenly had an image of Japanese-style paper walls made of this stuff. I wonder how much this would cost after it becomes commonplace? Would it be a viable replacement for drywall or wood? Would it be a good insulator?

    Interesting indeed.
  • Re:First! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cez ( 539085 ) <info@historystar ... y.com minus dist> on Monday June 09, 2008 @11:54PM (#23719765) Homepage
    I think the interesting aspect of this is the tensile strength ratio to mass or weight... at first I figured nanopaper would be mad stacked and heavy... but from the FA:

    The new nanopaper is "quite interesting," says Mike Wolcott, a materials scientist and cellulose fiber expert at Washington State University in Pullman. In addition to making paper stronger, the nanopaper has large pores between the fibers, which should also make it easier and cheaper to dry, thus reducing the cost of any final product, he says. And because cellulose is the most abundant organic compound on the planet, nanopaper has the potential to be cheaper than more-exotic, expensive-to-produce nanomaterials such as carbon nanotubes, says John Simonsen, a physical chemist and nanocrystalline cellulose expert at Oregon State University in Corvallis.

    apparently the nanobonds are more porous... would be nice to see some comparison statistics on the physical properties between nanopaper and regular paper per square inch say.

  • Health concerns? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by wtfispcloadletter ( 1303253 ) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @12:06AM (#23719869)
    There's already health concerns and risk with other nano technologies, what about paper? I'm around printers all day long and see a great deal of paper dust. What if there were made up of nano particles and got into the respiratory system of people?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @12:11AM (#23719917)
    I wonder if the high mechanical strength of this paper translates to good stable archival properties as well... physical records are still important for some things, and cheaper archival quality materials would be a Good Thing.
  • by zappepcs ( 820751 ) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @12:47AM (#23720237) Journal
    Actually, you are probably right. More porous and stronger? Sounds like a new paper towel to me. Hmmm what other paper products do we use that might benefit?

    Saturated paper products: Tar paper, sheetrock, and other products that are basically using paper to contain some other product, etc.

    Non-saturated: string spindles et al, books, food and product packaging materials, shipping materials...

    If it turns out that thicker pieces constructed with pressure or other methods, perhaps we'll finally get a throwaway computer or dvr case? Perhaps we'll find that a lot of carbon based plastics might be better created with nanopaper processes? How much oil would that save? How much cleaner could commercial enterprises become?

    There are a lot of things that paper is only just a bit less suitable than some other product that creates pollution or distributes toxins either during creation or after it's use.

    Obviously, I'm not the expert, but if this can make some of that come true it will be a very good thing.
  • Prior art (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Deadstick ( 535032 ) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @12:57AM (#23720311)
    Jules Verne wrote of a paper-constructed aircraft in Robur the Conqueror...


  • by DrMrLordX ( 559371 ) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @01:24AM (#23720473)
    Imagine what the Trabi could have been with nanopaper instead of duroplast.
  • by value_added ( 719364 ) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @01:37AM (#23720535)
    A well seasoned cast iron implement also has the advantage of being relatively non-stick ...

    Well-seasoned cast iron also has other advantages other than being non-stick (not relatively, but most definitely) that include more even and higher temperatures (for superiour browning), requiring no soap and water to clean, and being oven-safe (oven-friendly, actually) so you can cook using using any method or methods you choose.

    Then again, cast iron went out of fashion years ago when women started working in professional kitchens and found them too heavy for regular use, and the introduction of electric stoves (which don't generate a high enough heat) probably didn't help matters. It's a shame, really, and any westerner who's been in a Chinese kitchen and seen a wok seasoned over 20 years put to regular demanding use would probably agree.
  • by kaizokuace ( 1082079 ) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @03:57AM (#23721447)

    Paper airplanes, coat it with plastic.
    I wonder if it could be used in a composite material like carbon fiber or fiberglass. Like if you could make sheets that are easy to layup. Possibly making car body parts from this! Maybe could be lighter than CF.
  • Cancer. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by leuk_he ( 194174 ) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @04:42AM (#23721769) Homepage Journal
    Note that carbon nanotubes might cause cancer [newsrx.com]. I wonder how this paper fibers that are threated will be in the health department. Paper sounds fine, but that is the same what they thought of asbestos.
  • by SamSim ( 630795 ) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @06:05AM (#23722239) Homepage Journal

    That would make for superb irony when we reach the future of Fahrenheit 451. All the houses are fireproof, on account of being made of the very paper Montag is paid to burn...

  • Re:Milli-pascal? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Wyck ( 254936 ) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @08:42AM (#23723751)

    After I ran 6.2 kilometer yesterday, I was feeling thirsty. So I drank 1.6 liter of water. It took 37 minute to walk back to my car. I fired it up, and saw that the engine was already 52 degree from sitting in the hot sun. I got home, and collapsed from exhaustion. I slept an entire 9 hour.

    After a 6.2 kilometer run yesterday, I was feeling thirsty. So I had a 1.6 liter drink of water. It was a 37 minute walk back to my car. I fired it up, and saw it already had a 52 degree engine temperature from sitting in the hot sun. I got home, and collapsed from exhaustion. I had a 9 hour sleep.

    Adjective vs. noun usage?
  • Re:First! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Thelasko ( 1196535 ) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @09:35AM (#23724595) Journal

    wood has the highest tensile strength of any building material known to man based either on weight or cross sectional area. No, steel does. That's why I-beams are steel, not wood. It's also why the cables in suspension bridges are steel, not wood poles.
    I would like to point out a major difference between steel and wood. With wood, the direction of the grains matter, where with steel it doesn't matter. If the grain is oriented properly, wood outperforms steel. However, if the grains aren't oriented properly, steel is the winner.

    In many situations, it is difficult or next to impossible to get the stresses in a structure to be compatible with the grain structure of the wood.

    Timber structures have to be heavily engineered to ensure the stresses occur with the proper orientation to the grain. This often makes them too expensive in comparison to steel.

1 Mole = 007 Secret Agents