PANDAS like it and it’s a hardy enough plant for the garden but bamboo as a material to build cars out of?
It may sound a bit wacky but on Thursday car maker Ford announced it is to experiment with using bamboo in vehicle interiors.
It’s not the first time Ford has taken a look at unconventional materials in its cars. It also sized up the potential of jumper off cuts, the husk of the tequila plant and the unwanted tomato skins from Heinz tomato ketchup factories.
Ford said it’s looking at combining bamboo with plastic to make car parts, such as cabling and cooling fans.
“Bamboo is amazing,” Janet Yin said, an engineer at Ford’s Chinese research centre in Nanjing. “It’s strong, flexible, totally renewable, and plentiful in China and many other parts of Asia.”
Bamboo’s tensile strength can rival, or even better, some metals and it’s so tough that in some parts of South America it’s used to make rudimentary road bridges.
Ford is one of a growing clutch of automakers to look at so-called bio-materials as an alternative to less sustainable plastics.
Sugar cane and volcanic rock ash may sound like fancy shampoo ingredients but it’s actually what Hyundai is using in some car fabrics. However, Toyota has hit a stumbling block with US Toyota owners filing a lawsuit this month claiming rats are eating car wires coated with soy-based materials, causing thousands of dollars in damage.