Bamboo injected with an elastomeric polymer could prove to be a practical alternative to steel rebar as reinforcement in concrete.

That’s the conclusion of research done by three engineering technology students for a Capstone project at Lethbridge College in Alberta.For their efforts which showed injected bamboo performed well against steel in low-load scenarios, the students received the Capstone Project of the Year Award for demonstrating ingenuity and sustainability from the Association of Science and Engineering Technology (ASET) Professionals of Alberta.

One of the advantages of the injected bamboo is that it is up to 20 per cent lighter than steel, the team’s research concluded, says Tyson Baldrey, who developed the product along with Randy Holmberg and Allan Johnston, at the time all students in the engineering design and drafting technology program at the college.

In practical applications, that could translate to less concrete required to build structures, says Baldrey, who has since graduated and gone on to work as a junior mechanical designer with Lethbridge-based ProjectWORX Engineering.Another benefit is price. In a cost breakdown of 20-inch lengths of bamboo and its materials versus steel, the students concluded that bamboo was less expensive, he says.