BYU Students Win Cali Bamboo Contest with New Composite Material

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Three mechanical engineering students create extra-strong bridge beam using bamboo fiber

Natural Fiber Beam made with Cali Bamboo matting

The student team developed the award-winning beam out of bamboo which is a renewable material due to its rapid growth-rate.

The team’s overall goal is to develop a low-cost fiber separation technique that enables less developed nations to produce bamboo fibers strong enough to serve as a natural alternative to fiberglass.

Cali Bamboo, a premier manufacturer of green building materials, has awarded its February Project of the Month prize to Alex Stiles, a mechanical engineering student at Brigham Young University, for the composite material beam he created using bamboo fibers.

Stiles, along with fellow engineering students Steve Gardner and Roger Smith, used fibers extracted from Cali Bamboo’s bamboo matting as the raw material for a natural fiber double I-Beam. The BYU students used the beam to construct a bridge for the 14th Annual SAMPE (Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering) Student Bridge Contest in Long Beach, California. Their bamboo bridge competed against ten other university teams and took home second place in the competition’s natural fiber category.

The team’s overall goal is to develop a low-cost fiber separation technique that enables less developed nations to produce bamboo fibers strong enough to serve as a natural alternative to fiberglass. According to Stiles, “bamboo is cost-effective and renewable, and bamboo strips offer the right composition to undergo chemical treatments.”

Watch a video produced by BYU Weekly about the team’s bamboo fiber research.

Speaking of his project on the BYU Mechanical Engineering news webpage, Stiles says, “The success of BYU’s bamboo bridge supports the goal of my ORCA research, which is focused on improving the method for manufacturing bamboo fibers strong enough to serve as a viable fiberglass alternative.”

“The bamboo matting was donated by Cali Bamboo. But it was thanks to the team’s devotion and hard work that we were able to take a fledgling research project and produce a very successful bamboo fiber bridge. I hope that BYU’s success at the competition this year will help inspire engineering students to get involved with composites and help BYU take home first place next year!”

Stiles’ natural fiber double I-beam received the most votes in Cali Bamboo’s February Project of the Month Contest, and he will be receiving a $500 Cali Bamboo gift certificate. He plans on spending his winnings on more bamboo building product for continued research.

About Cali Bamboo, LLC
Based in San Diego, Cali Bamboo manufactures green building materials for residential and commercial projects made primarily from bamboo -- one of the world’s most durable, sustainable and renewable materials. Founded in 2004, the company has become a model of how individuals, businesses and communities can implement modern design while maintaining structural strength and environmental integrity. Cali Bamboo’s wide range of bamboo products includes fencing, flooring, composite decking, plywood and more. For more information visit http://www.CaliBamboo.com.

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Laura Kaplan-Nieto
Cali Bamboo
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