Hard as steel, quick-growing (three times faster than hard woods), bamboo has been long used in countries like Colombia to make good, durable home. However, its drawbacks like the sensitivity to UV rays and humidity, thin walls and empty interior made it become less used due to the poor fire resistance.
A team of researchers from the University of Bath, Coventry and Cambridge (UK) is currently trying to create bamboo-derived construction materials that overcome the lacks of the raw material. They went to Colombia to study more about the technology of bamboo and learn from the people who had been using it for centuries.
“Colombia is a live, full-scale laboratory of the many possibilities, implications and considerations when using bamboo. The trip was a unique opportunity to observe large-scale bamboo structures,” said David Trujillo from Coventry University, who led the mission.
The researchers have studied bamboo processing techniques of using a flat form of it, that had been traditionally used as a sheet of Guadua (a type of bamboo) wall frame systems. They used transmission electric microscopy to see the material’s features at a cellular level and measured its strength using a micro-bend test.
“Through the project we’ve explored options for producing high performance composites, including the combination of bamboo fibres with bio-polymer matrixes and the reinforcement of bamboo with other fibre composites,” said Hector Archila Santos, University of Bath PhD researcher on the project.
A viable application stemming from this research could be the incorporation of bamboo in joints and load bearing elements of buildings, thus replacing existing materials with a more carbon-friendly alternative. However, the scientists envision the usage of bamboo on a large scale in constructions.