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UK leads the way in bamboo research

13 December 2016

With the UK leading the way in the research and development of bamboo for structural applications, TRADA has produced a new Research Summary looking at cutting-edge developments in this fast-growing natural material.

The Research Summary is based on an international symposium titled Bamboo in the Urban Environment, which took place at the University of Pittsburgh in May 2016. The event was funded by the US State Department Global Innovation Institute. Participation was by invitation only - there were 40 delegates from 14 countries.

Dr Bhavna Sharma, from the University of Bath, highlighted the need for a coordinated effort on the creation of bamboo-specific standards that define accepted practices on the manufacture of engineered bamboo products (EBPs), and that provide a framework for mechanical testing and structural design.

Testing standards for full culm bamboo have been mainly developed in bamboo producing countries, but in the case of EBPs, research and product development have been mostly undertaken in countries with market demand for this material using standards for timber.

Dr Héctor Archila, leading researcher at Amphibia BASE Ltd affiliated to the University of Bath, presented an alternative technology for the development of EBPs using thermo-hydro-mechanical (THM) treatments.

These densification technologies tackle some of the problems relating to energy and labour intensity along with high wastage and high use of adhesives during transformation of round bamboo into straight-edged engineered products or EBPs.

Meanwhile, Professor Kent Harries, from the University of Pittsburgh, presented the progress made by his team regarding the development of testing procedures for bamboo.

Kelly Webb and David Trujillo, from Coventry University, presented an investigation into the fire resistance of bamboo culms and the cemented bahareque wall construction system. The presenter started by explaining the need for better understanding of the fire performance of bamboo, as bamboo is extensively used within residential construction, yet currently there are no standards for fire performance.

Two types of fire tests were undertaken. Small-scale furnace tests to BS 476 – which are deemed representative of fire within a building – and cone calorimeter tests to BS ISO 5560-1, to assess the properties of the bamboo species tested. The fire tests were performed free at Exova BM TRADA.

Members and lecturers can download the full Research Summary.

You can also view our full list of Research Summaries.

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