Interesting Bamboo Facts

Thomas Edison used bamboo splits as filaments. The bamboo filament tended to last about forty hours before burning out.

 A dentist in India makes artificial teeth from bamboo. The teeth last up to 10 years and can be fitted permanently or be removed like dentures.

Medicinal purposes?
Current research points to bamboo’s potential in a number of medical uses. Secretion from bamboo is used internally to treat asthma, & coughs. Ingredients from the root help treat kidney disease. Roots and leaves have also been used to treat venereal disease and cancer. Sap is said to reduce fever, and ash will cure prickly heat.

Bamboo is a grass, and grows, at a rate unrivaled in the plant world. Clumping bamboos tend to reach their full height in 3 to 4 months, with the maximum growth taking place over 3 to 4 weeks. The taller species, can reach a length of a hundred feet. This means that there are periods when the culm is growing three to four  feet in a day! Growth at night tends to be faster than during the day, and can be as much as two – three inches per hour.

It is estimated that bamboo occupies over one percent of the tropical and subtropical forest area worldwide – over 22 million hectares

According to the FAO/INBAR, over 63% of bamboo resources are privately owned with 36% bamboo owned by governmental entities. In comparison 80% of all world forests are on public lands..

How long does it normally take to grow?

Bamboo takes only 3-5 years before it can be harvested for the first time, versus 10-50 years for most softwoods and hardwoods. Thanks to its rapid growth, the yield is up to 25 times higher than that of timber. 

So, what makes using bamboo better than using trees?

With a 10-30% annual increase in biomass versus 2-5% for trees, bamboo creates greater yields of raw material for use.  Bamboo is definitely a viable replacement for wood and steel.

Bamboo can be harvested and replenished with virtually no impact to the environment. Every year it can be selectively harvested and is capable of regeneration without needing to be replanted.

Carbon Sequestration
Bamboo offers the quickest way to remove the vast amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Each acre of bamboo isolates up to 40 tons of CO2 with about half of that in the root structure.

  • A valuable and renewable resource for agro forestry products.
    Bamboo is a high-yield renewable natural resource. Ply Bamboo is now being used for wall paneling, floor tiles. Bamboo pulp is used for paper making; briquettes and fuel. Bamboo can be used as a building material for housing construction and replace rebar for reinforced concrete. In Costa Rica, 1000 bamboo houses are built annually with material coming from the same 150 hectare bamboo plantation. . If these houses were built with timber, 600 hectare of natural forest would be destroyed each year.  Bamboo and its related industries already provide income, food and housing to over 2.2 billion people worldwide. One billion people live in bamboo houses. In Bangladesh, 73% of the population live in bamboo houses. Bamboo provides pillars, walls, window frames, rafters, room separators, ceilings and roofs.

Bamboo is one of the strongest building materials in the world. It has twice the compression strength of concrete and roughly the same strength-to-weight ratio of steel. It withstands up to 52,000 pounds of pressure in compression. Bamboo’s tensile strength is 28,000 per square inch versus 23,000 for steel. The hollow tube shape gives a strength factor of 1.9 times more than an equivalent solid wood beam.

Bamboo houses are able to withstand hurricanes and earthquakes. Bamboo Living Homes withstood 3 hurricanes with winds with the highest sustained winds at 173m.p.h. in the Cook Islands in Polynesia in 2005. Meanwhile, most of the wood frame houses on the island were damaged beyond repair.

All of the twenty bamboo houses built for the National Bamboo Foundation survived a 7.5 Richter scale earthquake in Costa Rica in April 1991. An earthquake in Colombia in January 1999 also destroyed 75 percent of the buildings in the region, however, the bamboo structures survived uniformly unscathed.

Additional uses of bamboo can be found in bicycles, furniture, household goods, clothing. Bamboo pulp is used for making paper, charcoal for fuel. Bamboo Charcoal has a unique structure that is very close to Activated charcoal. It is used in pillows to help in sleep and muscle soreness.

Future of Bambu

Around 1999 the world’s population was 6 billion. The world’s population just reached 7 billion in 12 years. It could reach 8 billion by 2020. Approximately 40% of the world’s population now lives in the tropics, and that is expected to rise to 60% by 2050. This means the fastest population growth will be IN the Tropics. We are going to need more sustainable, lower embodied energy building products, and soon.