Aside from being very dear to the belly of the most adorable bear out there – the Panda – bamboo is also one of the best materials the natural world has provided us with, to the point of almost being revered in certain parts of the world.
Bamboo is of a major economic and cultural significance in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and East Asia, where you can find it being used for almost anything – from building material to food source, thanks to its natural versatility. It’s of the evergreen perennial flowering category and has a higher specific compressive strength than wood, brick, or concrete, which is why people look to find new uses for it. For example, Ford is now researching whether it can turn it into a material for the automotive industry.
The Blue Oval company believes some of the surfaces inside our upcoming vehicles might use components built from a mix of bamboo and plastic to create “super hard material.” Bamboo is also great because it’s cheap – it will reach full maturity in just two to five years – compared to up to decades for other trees, which makes it easily regeneratable. In addition, the tensile strength can compare or even best certain materials currently in use. “Bamboo is amazing,” tells us Janet Yin, a materials engineering supervisor at Ford’s Nanjing Research and Engineering Center. “It’s strong, flexible, totally renewable, and plentiful in China and many other parts of Asia.”