Proposal: Bamboo as a Structural Material
Full description of problem/need
|Many people cannot
afford concrete and steel houses and
the use of bamboo as a structural replacement
for steel has been highlighted as having
the potential to lower the price of
a new house.
However, the properties of bamboo
vary. It would be beneficial to identify
the ideal species of bamboo for use
as a building material, how to cultivate
it in Pabal or India in general and
most importantly, a method for assessing
the strength of the bamboo. Also,
an investigation into the lifespan
of the bamboo and any methods of expanding
it if necessary would be of interest;
a lifespan approaching 50 years is
|How will the local community use the
| Bamboo could be utilised
as a low-cost building material, and,
if the conditions are appropriate, the
plant could be grown locally.
|Estimate of the economic
benefit anticipated and plans for training
of the local community? What are the
major impacts on such a project?
| A small project at
Vigyan Ashram calculated that the cost
of a simple reinforced concrete home
with a corrugated metal roof for a family
was around Rs. 21,000. If a comparably
sized home was constructed predominately
from bamboo it would only cost Rs. 8,000.
The bamboo house did not have a lifespan
comparable to that of the concrete construction
in this case. If a successful system
promoting bamboo as a viable building
material is developed there would be
less dependence on more expensive steel
but land and resource use would be required
for bamboo cultivation.
|Full description of the local situation
(e.g. social, economic, geographical,
Weather information for Pabal, such
as temperature, humidity and rainfall
can be found in the engINdia Final Report.
This also contains information on the
geography of the region and its geology.
The poorest people in Pabal and its
surrounding area earn approximately
Rs. 2000. per month. The wealth of
the citizens varies greatly as local
businessmen and the educated can be
quite affluent; for example the local
homeopathic doctor earns Rs. 30,000.
per month. End cost and simplicity
should be at the forefront of any
Industrial chemicals and fertilisers
are easily available from Pune, a
city 30km from Pabal. A chemical treatment
used at Vigyan Ashram to extend the
life of bamboo in the region of 10-15
years is a mixture of sodium dichromate,
copper sulphate and boric acid in
400kg, 300kg, and 100kg quantities
respectively in 10,000 litres of non-distilled
water. There are health concerns over
the use of sodium dichromate as it
is a carcinogen; inhalation, ingestion
or skin absorption are harmful, and
may be fatal. Interestingly many people
were unaware of this.
|Full description of relevant infrastructure
available locally and/or internationally
Vigyan Ashram, an NGO operating just
outside Pabal, will act as a test
centre for any worthwhile solutions.
It has a small but proficient workshop
geared towards assembly and is also
home to Fab Lab, a project set up
by the Centre for Bits and Atoms at
MIT (U.S.). Fab Lab provides hi-tech
equipment in developing areas to promote
technical know-how and development.
For a list of the tools available
at Vigyan Ashram please refer to the
engINdia Final Report.