Bamboo, the world’s fastest-growing woody plant, is a sustainable material for building. Some bamboo have woody stalks dense as hardwood. Bamboo is also a great carbon sink. Until now, building with bamboo was chancy at best because of the irregular growth nature of the plant.
Yan Xiao, an engineering professor at the University of Southern California who was born and raised in China, set about developing a process to transform bamboo into structural beams. In 2006 he invented GluBam. Last winter, he returned to China and built a 33-foot GluBam bridge capable of supporting eight tons in the rural town of Leiyang.
The Bamboo Builder | Popular Science
First he tore strips of bamboo from the stalk and arranged them in such a way as to provide the most strength. He then coated the strips with glue and compressed them in a self-built hydraulic press into beams, 33 feet long and up to three feet wide, each capable of supporting eight tons. Xiao says that the beams cost just 20 percent as much as imported lumber.In the future, GluBam houses and buildings will replace the shoddy concrete structures that cover much of rural China that led to the catastrophic school collapses during the earthquakes in Sichuan province in May.