The technology presented in this study offers a revolutionary approach to maximizing the utilization of natural bamboo.
Here are some little known facts about bamboo: It grows fast, very fast. It has an amazing ability to regenerate. It eats carbon dioxide. And it’s incredibly light, strong and flexible.
Therefore, the classic synthetic fiber material, commonly used in the transportation and construction industries, is problematic for a number of reasons. This material – like polyester or carbon – is derived from petrochemicals that are neither renewable nor biodegradable. In fact, its manufacturing process is complex, requires a lot of energy and is also expensive; however, they are still used only for their resistance.
Bamboo fiber .
Seeing an opportunity for improvement in this area, a University of Maryland research team led by Liangbing Hu – Herbert Rabin Distinguished Professor and Director of the Center for Materials Innovation – created a novel top-down approach to the production of cellulose macrofibers made from totally bamboo.
This was achieved through a gentle delignification process and simple air drying. The resulting material is much stronger than fibers derived from wood, has a resistance comparable to that of synthetic fibers and is much more environmentally friendly.
The rigid macrofibers of bamboo are embedded in a matrix of hollow parenchyma cells, which adhere to each other with a natural polymeric glue made up of rigid lignin and amorphous hemicellulose.
They were able to extract these light, high yield fibers using peroxyformic acid as a delignifying agent. The lignin/hemicellulose binder was broken, allowing the almost solid cellulosic macrofibers to be separated and collected with hardly any mechanical damage.
These bamboo cellulose macrofibers offer a substantial reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to cotton, spider silk, carbon, nylon, and even rayon fibers.
In addition, bamboo fibers are relatively cheap and easy to produce, offering a wide range of structural applications in the automotive, aeronautical, construction and textile sectors.
I was excited to participate in this study because of its huge potential to replace many carbon-intensive materials with an abundant and sustainable material geared towards an ecologically responsible future.
Yuan Yao, Yale Associate Professor of Industrial Ecology and Sustainable Systems.