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Due to the global efforts to meet sustainability standards, many countries are currently looking to replace concrete with wood in buildings. France, for example, will require that all new public buildings will be made from at least 50 percent wood or other sustainable materials starting in 2022.

Because wood is prone to degradation when exposed to sunlight and moisture, protective coatings can help bring wood into wider use. Researchers at Aalto University have used lignin, a natural polymer abundant in wood and other plant sources, to create a safe, low-cost and high-performing coating for use in construction.

'Our new coating has great potential to protect wood. It's more water repellent than a lot of commercial coatings because it retains the natural structure of wood and its micro-scaled roughness. Since it's hydrophobic, the coating is also quite resistant to stains, while lignin's inherent structure resists colour changes from sunlight. It also does an excellent job of retaining wood's breathability,' explains Alexander Henn, doctoral candidate at Aalto University, The School of Chemical Engineering.

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