Image Credit : Arch Daily


Bamboo Construction Material of the Future


It always been a practice to use reinforcement steel bars in concrete structures. The steel provides the tensile loads while the concrete manages the compression stress. These are standard materials in building construction.

However, there is a grass that might change the conventional standards in construction. It might replace the reinforced steel bars with cheaper and stronger material which is bamboo. Bamboo is abundant especially in South Asia.


Bamboo as Plant

Bamboo is usually used in China as scaffolding since it is cheap. Indians and Filipinos also use this as low cost suspension bridges. In the Philippines, their national house is Bahay Kubo (Nipa Hut) is mostly made out of the bamboo. Also, Japanese use bamboo as decorative elements in their building as fencing, fountains and many more. There many cultures who use bamboo as construction materials. Bamboo construction materials is never new in the industry.

Bamboo can grow 35 inches per day which is really fast. Moreover, it is one the fastest-growing plants in the world. It is also two times strong than steel especially in tensile stress. These plants release  35% more oxygen than other trees. It also absorbs 35% more carbon dioxide than trees. When these are harvested it does not need any replanting.Bamboo fibers are strong compared other alloys of steel.

This plant is also great in preventing soil erosion. The rhizome of the bamboo grips well in the soil thus preventing soil erosion. It also serve as wind breaks that limits the erosion done by the wind.


Unlocking the Strength of the Grass

“This has the potential to revolutionise our building industry and finally provide an alternative to the monopoly of reinforced concrete,” says Dirk Hebel, an assistant professor of architecture and construction at the Future Cities Laboratory in Singapore, who also worked at Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH).He spoke at the World Architecture Festival 2015 to introduce a new material he calls the bamboo composite material, which is made from bamboo fiber and organic resin. It can be pressed into any shape, like rods resembling rebars, and then sawn or sanded like wood.If the concern is tensile strength, Hebel guarantees that the material he and his team produced surpasses that of the rebars.

“We can produce a material that in terms of tensile capacity is better than steel. Our material is only a quarter of the weight of steel. In terms of strength to weight, it performs better than steel.

“The big advantage of a bamboo fibir is that it is 100 times cheaper than carbon fiber, but it has potentially the same strength,” he adds. Which make it one of the alternative cheap construction material.

A research project which involves providing a more sustainable and affordable alternative to steel in developing countries, which by the way, consume most of the total steel (70%) and total cement (90%), has allowed Hebel to explore more of bamboo’s properties as a construction material. This serves as cheap construction material is especially for developing countries.

But instead of using the bamboo as it is for reinforcement, Hebel found a way to extract fiber from the grass, mix it with 10% organic resin, and make a moldable material that could replace the steel in reinforced concrete. It is water-resistant, non-swelling, and durable. It maybe long way ahead till bamboo construction can replace the reinforced steel bars in the market.

Bamboo for betterment of society

Not just only cheap construction material but it could really help the environment as a whole. Replacing our reinforcement steel bars with bamboo would really help our environment. Reinforcement steel bars are mined deep in the earth. Some are recycled however , some steel bars are also mined. Which is for sure that has adverse effects  in environment. Mining industry is a multi-billion dollar industry and might be severely affected when this plant will be used as an alternative. This alternative plant should research well since, the bamboo plant can easily be attack by pest. These pests can easily disintegrate the fibers of the plant. It can also be used in high saline areas which easily disintegrates the bamboo fibers. Promoting bamboo will surely help the environment. Do you think bamboo construction as alternative reinforced steel bars make way to the industry?