Learn about the advancements being made to utilize bamboo as reinforcement for concrete.

Most concrete across the globe is reinforced by steel rebar, but steel is a finite resource that is expensive and not readily available. There are many areas in the world where steel is not available. In those areas, builders have looked to a material that is readily available—bamboo. Many builders will use bamboo in its natural tubular form as if it were rebar. However, while bamboo does have an amazing tensile strength, it can swell, shrink, rot, and separate from concrete. Eventually, bamboo used in its natural form will fail as rebar and not hold up to steel. Luckily, the Chair of Architecture and Construction Professor, Dirk E. Hebel, has developed a new material from bamboo that the developers maintain is comparable to steel rebar; additionally, they claim it is much more sustainable.

Bamboo in Concrete
The material developed is a bamboo composite material made of the plant’s natural fibers that are then mixed with organic resin. Called BambooTECH, this material retains bamboo’s natural high tensile capacity, is malleable, and it can be tooled. Developers have created thin rods from the composite to make rebar-like forms that can be used as a reinforcing matrix in concrete.

In addition to being used as a replacement for steel, the bamboo composite material can also be used as a substitute for timber. It is best used in applications that take advantage of the material’s high tensile strength, like ceiling beams and roof structures.

Other advantages of the bamboo composite material are that it is sustainable like timber. However, bamboo is one of the fastest-growing plants, growing much faster than timber, and the bamboo plant is not killed when harvested, unlike timber. Bamboo is also well-known for its ability to capture carbon, making it an essential material in lowering carbon emissions.

Hebel maintains that BambooTECH has the possibility to allow those outside of the steel market to compete, bolster their economies through job growth and trade, and help the environment at the same time.

Tucker Paving has over 25 years of experience in the asphalt and concrete paving industry, and we are always looking forward to new innovation within the construction industry. Contact us online, or call us at (863) 299-2262 for assistance with your next asphalt paving project.