Priceless in the eyes of the world
Researcher considers Sarawak has potential to generate over RM10 billion by 2030 through R&D and commercial use of bamboo
THE bamboo plant, with its hundreds of species, has been used in so many ways such as for food, in construction, as ornaments and for making tribal musical instruments.
All of this has been around for hundreds of years, imprinting a strong sense of tradition among many communities around the world.
For this reason, it is associated with many noble virtues such as etiquette, tranquility, and selflessness.
The traits and properties of each species and subspecies of bamboo are also unique.
Moreover, the plant, under the genus ‘Bambusa’, is also a renewable resource with several uses and benefits.
It is widely used in papermaking, erosion control, natural water filtering, decorations and building materials around the world.
Potential key supplier
According to Ts Dr Muhammad Khusairy Bakri, postdoctoral research associate at Washington State University in the United States, Sarawak can become the world’s largest supplier of bamboo due to its high potential site, soil and land. .
He estimates that with over 98 hectares of potential land for bamboo plantations, Sarawak has the potential to earn over RM10 billion by 2030.
South America, Africa and Oceania together account for 33% of the world’s bamboo harvest. Depending on its cultivars and production, varieties of potential use can be commercialized, allowing more bamboo products to enter the market and meet more industrial needs.
“With the bamboo promotion works, I hope that the Sarawak government will take new initiatives to pursue more research and development (R&D) towards developing Sarawak’s own bamboo cultivars and products, which have not prized in the eyes of the world,” he said. the sunday post.
Born in Kuching, Khusairy currently works at Washington State University’s Composite Materials and Engineering Center.
He also leads the research and development sector of the Association of Professional Technician and Technologists (APTT) Sarawak, working on composite materials from forest and industrial products.
Bamboo friendly products
Khusairy says his books on “Bamboo Polymer Nanocomposites: Preparing for Sustainable Applications” and “Recycled Plastic Biocomposites” – published in 2021 and 2022 respectively – strongly encourage R&D work on bamboo and other products. value-added industries affiliated with Sarawak, especially within the framework of its development and niche market.
“I believe local industries in Sarawak would also join the development aligned with Sarawak Post-Covid-19 Development Strategy 2030 (PCDS 2030), initiated by our Sarawak Prime Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg,” says the searcher.
According to him, industries around the world are turning to bamboo-friendly products because the increase in logging activities has resulted in the inability of forests to absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
The massive amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere traps heat and therefore generates global warming.
“Planting bamboo could reduce this problem, as it is the fastest growing plant and it is a means of storing carbon.
“When it comes to design, construction and production, bamboo has a lot of potential and can be a viable alternative to traditional hardwoods like oak and maple, as well as Sarawak’s most valuable wood species such as the “belian” (local ironwood).
“Even though bamboo is relatively light, researchers are particularly interested in biocomposites made from it, in terms of environmental responsibility and eco-sustainability,” he adds, describing bamboo as “l ‘one of the green technologies responsible for eco-products’.
Biomass, among others
For the manufacture of biocomposite products, Khusairy points out that the individuality of bamboo is essential because it provides raw materials that can be processed and molded into a wide range of products, including veneers, strips, particles and fibers.
“Many specialists believe that agricultural biomass solid wood made from bamboo is the most important source of natural fiber and cellulose fiber biocomposite, accessible at low cost and destined to usher in a new industrial world.
“Thanks to mass production, bamboo is available and can be used even in the textile, aerospace, telecommunications and automotive fields.”
Additionally, Khusairy asserts that science and technology have made agricultural biomass a raw material in many manufacturing industries, replacing solid wood and other non-biodegradable resources and thereby boosting industrial productivity and supply. .
“When it comes to the construction industry, bamboo is an excellent choice because of its strength and flexibility. A more cost-effective house can be built, thanks to the advancement of bio-composite fiberboards and particle board with natural fire retardant properties.
“While the texture and tether on the outer shell of bamboo conveys an exotic value and uniqueness in design, especially in furniture, it has that distinctiveness.”
Use in the automotive industry
Khusairy also observes that while fiberglass is currently used as an automotive headliner substrate, researchers have shown that bamboo-polypropylene strip composites offer better properties, such as exceptional flex, impact, as well as than acoustics and soundproofing.
“A wide range of applications for biocomposite materials are possible in the automotive industry and the construction sector. These include door inserts, trunk liners, pillar trim, parcel shelves and load floors.
“Several studies have investigated the effects of incorporating bamboo charcoal, biochar, or biocarbon into a thermoplastic polyolefin polymer. The porous nature of bamboo charcoal, biochar, or biocarbon makes it an ideal medium for absorbing chemicals. volatile chemicals and reduce static electricity build-up.
“Due to its water absorption property and electrical conductivity, bamboo charcoal was selected as a possible additive to polyolefins.”
Khusairy also says that elastomeric composites are increasingly using bamboo fibers as an alternative filler reinforcement.
He points out that when natural rubber (polyisoprene) and short bamboo fibers are used in composites, the mechanical characteristics are greatly improved.
“Elastomeric composites, such as gloves, hoses, tires, V-belts and other mechanical parts, are all used. Bamboo carbon black is commonly used in tire manufacturing to increase its initial modulus and durability.
“As a reinforcing filler in tires, bamboo carbon black has increased tire longevity 10 times since its introduction in the 20th century. Additionally, carbon black can be produced by burning bamboo in a kiln at a specific temperature and heat level. As a result, tires and other rubber products have been reinforced with bamboo carbon black ever since,” he explains.
Khusairy also says natural fibers such as bamboo are increasingly being used as fillers to replace fossil fuels in a natural rubber polymer matrix, resulting in environmentally friendly tires.