A combination of bamboo and plastic could be used in the interior of your next car.
One of the world’s strongest natural materials, the bamboo, is of notable economic and cultural significance in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and East Asia, where it’s being used for building materials, as a food source, and as a versatile raw product. This evergreen perennial flowering plant has a higher specific compressive strength than wood, brick, or concrete, and could soon become an important material for the automotive industry. Here’s why.
Ford claims that soon some surfaces inside our vehicles could be made from a combination of bamboo and plastic to create “super hard material.” Bamboo is considered a cheap material as it grows to full maturity in just two to five years - compared to up to decades for other trees, which makes it easy to regenerate. On the other hand, its tensile strength can rival or even better some types of metal.
“Bamboo is amazing,” Janet Yin, a materials engineering supervisor at Ford’s Nanjing Research and Engineering Center, comments. “It’s strong, flexible, totally renewable, and plentiful in China and many other parts of Asia.”
Ford engineers have discovered that bamboo performs way better than many synthetic and natural fibres in different tests. At this moment, the Blue Oval is not ready to predict when the material will find its way into a production car, but claims it can resist more than 100 degrees Celsius, which makes it suitable to many different applications.
Currently, the manufacturer uses several sustainable and fully recyclable materials from the nature. These include kenaf, a tropical plant in the cotton family found in the door bolsters of the Ford Escape, soy-based foams, used as seat cushions, seatbacks, and head restraints, and wheat straw, used in the Ford Flex to reinforce storage bins.