Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

CleanTechnica

Bicycles

Is Bamboo The Next Carbon Fiber? Lightweight Cars Made Of Renewable Bamboo

Could bamboo replace carbon fiber in many common auto-industry applications in the near future? Could the cheap, lightweight, renewable material preempt the mainstream use of the high-tech but expensive material? Could the economic advantages inherent in the material prove themselves too good to pass up?

Moso bamboo plantation   Source: Master Garden Products

Moso bamboo plantation. Source: Master Garden Products

Hard questions to answer, but some people certainly think bamboo’s future in cars could be right around the corner, as new articles from BBC Autos and Green Car Congress note:

Surfboard manufacturer Gary Young uses bamboo in his boards already, and he told the news services that he felt bamboo had the potential to replace carbon fiber in automotive applications. Young’s surfboards use a special bamboo weave combined with an epoxy coating that has proven to be strong and light, but not brittle.

While it may not be strong enough for all automotive applications, bamboo parts would have a few advantages over comparable carbon-fiber items. At just pennies per pound, bamboo is much cheaper. It’s also truly renewable, with some species growing almost 40 inches per day.

Another notable advantage with regard to environmental pollution is that the dust from the manufacturing process decomposes relatively rapidly, as compared the dust from carbon fiber manufacture, or the manufacture of other synthetic materials, which instead simply sit in a landfill somewhere for a very, very, very long time.


Another advantage is that, while carbon fiber can go a long way in the reduction of vehicle weights — and subsequently, fuel-use — the material’s total environmental impact is not insignificant, as has often been noted.

Is it really “environmentally friendly” for BMW to create a carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) body shell for the 2014 BMW i3 from a material imported from Washington state? A process that takes more energy than the construction of a conventional stamped-steel shell.

Or course, as BMW notes, while it takes more energy to build a vehicle like the i3 than it does a conventional model (perhaps), the overall lifetime emissions are lower. But perhaps a material like bamboo could be an alternative? Providing the best of both — relatively cheap costs, and a light, fuel-efficient body.

An interesting idea, what do our readers think?

On a related subject, while bamboo hasn’t been used in the construction of cars much to date, bikes are another matter. We recently covered just such an interesting application — Boo Bicycle’s lightweight and sturdy bamboo/aluminum hybrid bicycle. The only downside to such a bike (and most other such bamboo bikes to date) is the high price — as such bikes have mostly been geared towards the high-end crowd. Hopefully cheaper alternatives using the material become more common in the coming years.

Bamboo has many benefits. It seems only a matter of time before it’s more commonly used within our vehicles.

 
Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.
 
 

Advertisement
 
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Written By

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

Comments

You May Also Like

Bicycles

2020 was a banner year for e-bikes, and 2021 is shaping up to be even better with launch after launch of desirable, electrified two-wheelers....

Bicycles

Love high-end bikes? The new Akhal Shadow bicycle from British design firm Extans is simply too beautiful to ignore.

Clean Transport

Porsche tricks out a gasmobile with sustainable carbon fiber bodywork today, and the benefits could ripple over to electric vehicles.

Bicycles

Carbon fiber bikes are nothing new, but when the tech gets together with 3D printing, things get crazy. Crazy awesome, that is. A new...

Copyright © 2021 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.