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Bamboo composites: Material of the future

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Bamboo is an important renewable resource on which around 2.5 billion people all over the world depend greatly for a wide range of products and livelihood. Bamboo has more than 1000 documented uses. About one billion people live in bamboo houses. Bamboo, a tree-like grass, represented by about 1250 known species, is found in all regions of the world: tropical, sub-tropical and temperate except in Europe and West Africa. Bamboo accounts for approximately 25% and 20% of the total biomass respectively in the tropics and the sub-tropical areas. Bamboo has several unique advantages, namely: (i) ability to rejuvenate degraded areas; (ii) grows well in plantation models in harmony with other species, and hence there is no need for mono-culture; (iii) short rotation cycle of 2-5 years; and (iv) widely recognized traditional resource having quicker acceptability. Panel composites made from bamboo have great potential due to their better strength, dimensional stability and other characteristics compared to panels made from several fast growing plantation timbers. IPIRTI is the premier Indian R&D institution working for development for bamboo composites. It has already developed technologies for several mat-based composites from bamboo including Bamboo Mat Board (BMB), Bamboo Mat Veneer Composite (BMVC), and Bamboo Mat Corrugated Sheets (BMCS). Whereas BMB and BMVC are being produced in some factories, technology for BMCS is being scaled-up for industrial production. Works relating to development of suitable application technologies and codes of practice are in also progress. Additional positive aspects of bamboo-based panel materials are environmentally friendly reduction of pressure on forests through wood substitution; it is people friendly as it uses traditional resources; it enhances rural employment generation with participation of women and community development. BMB technology developed at IPIRTI has been found to be an exemplary demonstration of implementation of Agenda 21 by the International Selection Commission of EXPO-2000 and was a registered Project around the World at the EXPO-2000 Hannover, Germany. This paper discusses IPIRTI's R&D efforts related to development of bamboo composites and their relevance for people oriented development programs.


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