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Transportation Technology

Is Bamboo the Next Carbon Fibre? 198

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from the BBC about one very cool building material: "Real carbon fibre, mind, is still just as wondrous as it was in the last century, even if a bit more commonplace in road cars. But it's still very expensive to make in large pieces and quantities, it requires copious energy to manufacture, can be very brittle if made poorly, is not recyclable and can impose a detrimental impact of the environment when being produced. In other words, it is ripe for disruption. Technology stands still for no one. But could nature provide carbon fibre's replacement? So argues Gary Young, a renowned manufacturer of surfboards who has spent his life pioneering alternative materials use for that industry. 'With the right approach, bamboo can be used in many applications in the automotive world where its performance qualities can better carbon fibre's,' Young says. 'Plus, it does not have a negative effect on the environment.''"
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Is Bamboo the Next Carbon Fibre?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 25, 2014 @06:19PM (#47089477)

    Bamboo, the spreading kind like yellow groove, starts to spread three years after planting. It never stops! Bamboo is a long lived plant, around 99 years. We have cut all our culms (stalks) and now the plant has reverted to a grass-like growth habit. But, no doubt, if it is not constantly mowed, it will revert to its normal habits, reaching up to 35 feet in height. Underground, about five inches, it is one interconnected mass. It spreads via rhizomes about five feet a year or more, in all directions. My advice is to plant the clumping types, far easier to manage. It is a beautiful plant.

  • Re:Recycleable? (Score:5, Informative)

    by guises ( 2423402 ) on Sunday May 25, 2014 @06:38PM (#47089575)
    Carbon fiber is made from fossil fuels, bamboo is a fairly efficient agricultural product. Recycling between them may be similar, I don't know about that, but that isn't the whole story.
  • Re:Bamboo Bicycle (Score:5, Informative)

    by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Sunday May 25, 2014 @07:37PM (#47089803)

    I've seen bamboo used in China for scaffolding in the construction of steel and concrete buildings 20+ storeys tall.

    Bamboo is safer than steel for scaffolding. It you fall into a bamboo scaffold, it will flex, absorbing much of the impact energy. When steel scaffolding was first used in China, there were several fatalities that would not have happened with bamboo. So the construction workers refused to return to work until the steel was taken down and replaced with bamboo.

  • Re:Hemp (Score:5, Informative)

    by dryeo ( 100693 ) on Sunday May 25, 2014 @09:37PM (#47090157)

    IIRC you'd need a blunt 4' long and 18" across to get a buzz from hemp, and you'd die from smoke inhalation first.

    All depends on the variety with modern hemp strains bred for low psycho-activity to make it more acceptable. That along with allowing the males to flourish and fertilize the females produces hemp that won't get you high.
    Hemp is a wonder plant, the fiber is very useful, the plast left over from extracting the fiber also has numerous uses including plastic like. The seeds have a high oil content, a very high grade oil useful for industrial uses, as well as for food containing all the essential oils and the seeds are one of the few sources of complete proteins, much like soybeans. Basically you could live a long time on nothing but hemp.
    Then there are the recreational and medicinal uses of the psycho-active strains.

  • Re:or... (Score:5, Informative)

    by bugs2squash ( 1132591 ) on Sunday May 25, 2014 @10:52PM (#47090359)
    Per wikipedia Ultimate Tensile Strength of S-glass is 4710MPa and UTS of Carbon fiber is 4137. I know that density is often mixed into the equation for strength, but even so... The biggest thing Carbon has going for it is its stiffness.
  • Re:or... (Score:4, Informative)

    by smart_ass ( 322852 ) on Monday May 26, 2014 @08:44AM (#47091717)

    Lets not forget directional strength based on the weaves used. This has ALWAYS been and still is a distinguishing factor between (long) fiber based composites and their homogeneous counterparts.

    A good designer can take this into account to a make a part that is stronger, cheaper and lighter.

    A poor designer can add "Carbon Fiber Roof" to the list of specifications and increase the price.

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