G8-2012 Structural Bamboo Products

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Architecture


This project develops green construction materials and building codes for bamboo. China, India and Brazil have
rapidly expanding economies with increasing demand for building materials. The production of conventional
construction materials such as steel and concrete is energy intensive and unsustainable: concrete alone accounts for
5% of global CO2 emissions. Bamboo is a fast growing, renewable building material widely cultivated in these
countries but not utilized to its full potential in modern construction. Its mechanical properties are similar to wood
but it produces up to six times as much mass per hectare as conventional timber plantations. Structural bamboo
products (SBP), similar to plywood, oriented strand board, or glue-laminated wood products, therefore have
enormous potential to partially replace the use of more energy intensive materials in rapidly developing countries.
Widespread use of SBP is hampered by limited knowledge of their manufacture, structural and thermal behavior,
and lack of appropriate building codes. The goal of this project is to develop modern structural building materials
from renewable bamboo in order to place growth in rapidly developing countries onto a more sustainable path.
Low-carbon solutions can also help to meet developed countries' own obligations under schemes like the UK's
Carbon Reduction Commitment.

Planned Impact

Academic impact
Our research will contribute significantly to the knowledge base and use of engineered bamboo, including its environmental and economic impact. Our results will inform colleagues working in similar areas, and advance the development and application of structural bamboo products. INBAR (International Network for Bamboo and Rattan) and other international bamboo organizations will benefit from this work, as we will also benefit from their on-going work. The growing interest in bamboo has the potential to link UBC, MIT and CU with other colleagues and universities in the developing world working on similar projects (e.g. China, Brazil and India). These linkages can have significant benefits for all parties.

Sustainable building materials
A major focus of the project is to enhance sustainability of building products, by the development of a lower-carbon alternative to conventional structural elements. Project impact could thus extend to a global scale. It will play a part in the achievement of low carbon goals both in less developed countries and the developed world. In China, for example, it would contribute to meeting provincial and national targets on carbon reduction that will soon be subject to a planned emission-trading scheme. In Europe, it could be proposed immediately as a candidate for carbon reduction credits in the Emissions Trading Scheme.

The structural bamboo products and codes we develop will be a viable alternative to steel and concrete members for many situations, with lower embodied carbon. Furthermore, building designs incorporating these elements will have low operating energy use, and thus emit lower levels of carbon throughout their lives. We believe the potential impact of this project to be significant, and welcome the opportunity to demonstrate this.

Commercial manufacturing
We plan to work closely with bamboo manufacturers, such as Dasso, to improve the applicability of their product to the design and construction market and to help them understand the energy inputs to their product, and where possible to identify savings. If the potential of structural bamboo is realized, the market impact could be significant. We plan to visit Dasso in China and invite them to come to project workshops to engage with our research while it is ongoing. The China Children's and Teenagers' Fund (CCTF) demonstration projects will have great potential for showcasing their ability to produce new and better building materials.

Policy through building codes
This project aims to expand and extend the initial International Bamboo Building Code ISO 22156:2004 to have relevant coverage of structural bamboo products. Our development and dissemination of this will be in cooperation with INBAR, with which we already have contact, and directly with policy-makers in China during our final year workshop. The Architecture Department at CU has strong links to sister departments in China, particularly at Tsinghua and Chongqing Universities, with whom we would work to get appropriate conversations with Chinese policy and construction ministries.

Engagement with local community (China & International Network for Bamboo and Rattan)
Our pathway in this area has two components:
(1) Engagement with direct end-users of the technology, including a local bamboo product manufacturer (Dasso China) and demonstration building owner and operator China (CCTF).
(2) Engagement with wider community of potential building product users through INBAR, and beneficiaries of widened employment opportunities in bamboo producing regions of China.
We will work with these groups throughout the project, but we will engage particularly in an early trip to China (first half of year 1). The personal contacts Ramage and Mulligan already have at Dasso and CCTF, and new ones we make at that point will continue to influence the direction and relevance of our work.


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Chow A (2019) Optimising ply orientation in structural laminated bamboo in Construction and Building Materials

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Gatóo A (2014) Sustainable structures: bamboo standards and building codes in Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers - Engineering Sustainability

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Liu X (2015) Nomenclature for Engineered Bamboo in BioResources

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Liu Xianmiao (2016) Nomenclature for Engineered Bamboo in BIORESOURCES

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Mulligan,H (2014) Forest Products Society International Convention, Quebec, Canada in Forest Products Society International Convention, Quebec, Canada

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Penellum M (2018) Relationship of structure and stiffness in laminated bamboo composites in Construction and Building Materials

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Ramage M (2017) Thermal relaxation of laminated bamboo for folded shells in Materials & Design

Description The Structural Bamboo Project investigated the use of bamboo in construction and was conducted in collaboration with the University of British Columbia (UBC, Canada) and MIT (USA). The project included an initial trip to China in year one to meet experts in the field, as well as visit manufacturers and other stakeholders, such as the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) for development of bamboo. The CU team were joined by members of the UBC research team. The trip yielded research and industry contacts, as well as a greater understanding of the manufacturing process. Through contacts made during the trip to China, CU hosted two reciprocal visits by researchers from the International Centre for Bamboo and Rattan in China. Researchers visited Cambridge in August of 2013 and May 2015 to discuss current research and potential collaborations. Two outcomes of the collaboration were a MOU (May 2015) between the two institutions and a joint paper (published in 2016). CU also hosted the research teams from MIT and UBC for a meeting to review the project progress and next steps. The meeting included a joint workshop hosted by INBAR that included bamboo researchers from the UK and Colombia. In addition to establishment of collaborations, the project provided further identification of manufacturers in Colombia, Ecuador, UK, USA, and Taiwan provided a more holistic background on the emerging global industry. The development of a network of stakeholders, in the UK and globally, provided a foundation from which to investigate and develop structural bamboo products. The research team also documented existing bamboo codes and standards, as well as comparable timber codes and standards. Using commercially produced products from China, standardised experimental testing provided preliminary results on the mechanical properties. A variety of commercial products were tested, including laminated bamboo, bamboo scrimber. The results provided a baseline comparison to other construction materials, such as timber and glue laminated timber. Additional life cycle assessments of bamboo products manufactured in China and Colombia were conducted to quantify the sustainability aspect and review in detail the process for improvement opportunities. Further testing was conducted on the thermal properties of structural bamboo products and served as an initial study to understand the material. In addition to research outcomes, the project included attendance at international conferences, participation in a design expo, and further academic collaborations.
Exploitation Route Our research has demonstrated, to EuroCode standards of testing, the potential for using bamboo as a structural material in big buildings. We have a number of ongoing collaborations that may be able to take this work forward.
Sectors Construction,Creative Economy,Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Other

URL http://www.structuralbamboo.co.uk
Description Prelude is a pavilion composed of a helical pathway that cantilevers from the base and embodies the function of the Muziekgebouw through a lightweight design that mirrors a musical prelude in structure, concept and form. Inspired by Guastavino´s masonry vaults, the structure evokes the image of a spiral staircase originally constructed from thin tiles, transformed in a novel material with properties distinct from structural masonry. With a growing need for the development of sustainable materials, engineered bamboo combines the benefits of a natural fibre composite with the advantages of a laminated material. Guastavino's shells are constructed to act in compression. In contrast, the bamboo shell acts in bending and tension, utilising the inherent properties of the material to form the structure. To utilise the helix as the support for a stairway, the shell would need to act in compression through the addition of wall supports and a thrust connection at the upper end, improving its overall performance. The spiral has a 2m radius, it is 1 m wide and 3m high. It is composed of 20 pieces of 19mm in the edge and 20 of 5mm in the shell. The base and edge supports were connected using biscuit joints. For the shell, the individual panels were connected using bamboo dowels and attached to the edge support through a slotted connection. All parts were glued in place using a fast curing polyurethane glue. Additional bolted connections were added to the underside of the shell to facilitate construction, deconstruction, and for additional load transfer in tension between the panels. To aid with final construction the spiral was preassembled into six sections, although the structure was designed to fit the original size constraints of the Expo. These sections were dry joints, only connected through bolted connections. Prelude demonstrates the possibilities for structural bamboo. With exceptional structural properties, there are applications that have yet to be explored. Through parametric design and structural analysis the cantilevered helix was prepared for the Expo at the Muziekgebouw. The process of construction and assembly enabled further understanding of the engineering and construction benefits, possibilities and limitations of building with structural bamboo. The structure serves as an illustration of structural bamboo in engineering applications. The Structural Bamboo Products Research Project is supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Grant EP/K023403/ 1. The project is sponsored by MOSO International B.V. MOSO offers a unique assortment of innovative and sustainable products made of bamboo.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Construction,Creative Economy,Environment,Other
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

Description ESRC IAA
Amount £4,270 (GBP)
Funding ID ES/M500409/1 
Organisation Economic and Social Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2015 
End 08/2015
Description Leverhulme Programme Grant in Sustainable Living
Amount £1,750,000 (GBP)
Funding ID RP2013-SL-008 
Organisation The Leverhulme Trust 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2014 
End 09/2019
Title Research data supporting 'Penellum, et al. Relationship of structure and stiffness in laminated bamboo composites, Construction and Building Materials, 2018' 
Description Raw data in excel sheets presenting bending siffness and fibre volume fraction of processed engineered bamboo beams. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Title Research data supporting 'Shah et al., Processing bamboo for structural composites: Influence of preservative treatments on surface and interface properties. International Journal of Adhesion and Adhesives, 2018' 
Description Dynamic contact angle measurements of bamboo (raw, bleached and caramelised) with water and diiodomethane. Lap shear adhesion bond testing data for bamboo (raw, bleached and caramelised) with polymer adhesives (polyurethane, PU; polyvinyl acetate, PVA; soy-flour based adhesive, Soy; resorcinol phenol formaldehyde, RPF; and, urea phenol formaldehyde, UPF. ) 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Title Research data supporting 'Sharma et al., Chemical composition of processed bamboo for structural applications, Cellulose, 2018' 
Description Dataset for 'Sharma et al., Chemical composition of processed bamboo for structural applications, Cellulose, 2018'. FTIR, XRD, ssNMR, DVA, and DSC data on raw, bleached and caramelised bamboo 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes