New research shows cross-laminated bamboo OK for construction

Filipino researchers are one step closer to understanding engineered bamboo. A research team at the Department of Science and Technology’s Forest Products Research and Development Institute (DOST-FPRDI) recently found that cross-laminated bamboo boards made from local species are a promising construction material.

Explains Dr. Rico J. Cabangon, DOST-FPRDI Deputy Director and one of the researchers, “Engineered bamboo refers to various kinds of composite boards that come from processing raw bamboo. Several layers of bamboo strips or slats are glued together and pressed to form boards that can be used for specific purposes—furniture, decors, and house parts such as walls, doors, ceilings, and floors. Engineered bamboo panels are often stronger and less prone to warping than equivalent solid woods.”

One type of engineered bamboo is cross-laminated bamboo or CLB. In a recent study, the DOST-FPRDI researchers measured the strength of CLB made from two local species, kawayan tinik (Bambusa espinosa) and giant bamboo (Dendrocalamus asper).

“We produced CLB by gluing layers of bamboo slats on top of each other, with the grain of adjoining layers running in opposite directions. This type of lamination gives the board strength in two directions,” says Project Leader Christian Camacho. “The results were encouraging: Our CLB met the strength requirements of some cross-laminated timber products. Their density, hardness, and bending strength are promising for load-bearing walls, floors, and ceilings.”

Camacho explains that his inspiration for studying CLB was cross-laminated timber or CLT, an innovative panel currently gaining attention worldwide.

He adds, “With the local housing demand currently at an all-time high, there is space for CLB in the Philippine building industry, especially in prefabricated housing. In the United States alone, the demand for prefab houses is expected to reach 145,000 units next year. This makes CLB a potential exportable construction material.”

Made from a fast-growing, renewable resource, CLB can help provide a livelihood to local bamboo farmers and other players in the bamboo industry. (Rizalina K. Araral, DOST-FPRDI)