Bamboo Biomass: A Potential Bioresource for sustainable development

By Ram Chandra Poudel 23rd August 2020

The rise in the global population has dramatically increased the production and use of non-biodegradable materials. The improper disposal practice of such waste materials has a severe effect on the natural ecosystem and human life as well. Similarly, the increasing demand for unsustainable biomass exploitation has also shown a negative ecological impact. For instance, massive logging activities eventually contribute to biodiversity loss and climate change.

Therefore, the negative consequences of non-biodegradable materials and unsustainable biomass production have triggered a circular (bio) economy model for the production and utilization of bamboo biomass which ultimately contributes to sustainable development.

Bamboo is one of the fastest-growing woody grasses with zero net greenhouse gas emissions. It is an alternative source for sustainable biomass production and uses due to its high biomass yields and short rotation period. Bamboo biomass is a sustainable development chain resource and therefore, contributes to fulfilling many of the United Nations sustainable development goals (UN SDGs), such as poverty reduction, sustainable energy supply, land and water life protection, rural and urban infrastructure development, circular (bio) economic growth, and climate change mitigation.


Globally, the plantation of bamboo is done in approximately 220,000 km2 areas, with the estimated production of 15–20 million tons annually (Liu et al., 2012). Bamboo biomass is the largest natural source of fibre and cellulose (Suhaily et al., 2013). It is available at minimal cost, and it brings progression into the manufacturing industry and production chain. Bamboo uses for various commercial applications, including mat, chopsticks, panels or composites, charcoal or active carbon, paper, and pulp (Scurlock et al., 2000), food additives, textiles, biochemicals, bioenergy, and dietary fibres. 


A biological attack is arguably a critical concern to use bamboo biomass bio-products. Bamboo has a thin-walled geometry, high starch content, and lacks any decay-resistant compounds. Therefore, biological decay in bamboo can be due to insects like beetles and termites; and rotting due to fungal attack. To prevent such effects, treat bamboo through-thickness with chemicals, keep it in the dry, airy place, and away from termites (Archila et al., 2018).


The property of bamboo is greatly affected by the mechanical characteristics, nodes, clums location, and orientation of the outer bark (Ahmad and Kamke, 2005). Nevertheless, with proper improvements in the treatment and conversion process using advanced engineering technology and modern science, bamboo can replace wood, plastics, and related products significantly. Consequently, bamboo biomass has great potential as a future bioresource for biorefining.


The commercial manufacturing products of bamboo reflect the green recovery for the sustainable future. Few commercial applications of bamboo biomass that contribute to sustainable development are described below.


Bamboo biocomposites

Bamboo, a biocomposite material is composed of cellulose fibres embedded in a lignin matrix. The reinforced bamboo fibre increases flexural ductility, tensile strength, and cracking resistance (Suhaily et al., 2013). The quality improves further by applying various treatment techniques. Maleic anhydride treatment improves the mechanical (flexural modulus and modulus of elasticity) and water-resistant properties of bamboo–epoxy composites (Abdul Khalil et al., 2012). Bamboo strips can be reinforced with non-woven polypropylene to produce ultra-light unconsolidated composites (Suhaily et al., 2013). Similarly, bamboo joinery can be straightened or bend by heating and clamping and create special effects that are useful for industries (Xian et al., 2018). 


Nowadays, various companies manufacture hybrid bamboo-based products commercially. Conventional biocomposites such as chipboard, flakeboard, plywood, and medium-density fibreboard are made from bamboo. In the international market, bamboo veneer, plywood, and density fiberboard have proven their quality. 



The character of bamboo as mechanical properties, durability, and excellent heat absorber makes it a suitable material for building construction. Therefore, bamboo can replace reinforced concrete and other timber by combining it with mineral binders. Nowadays, the city buildings and homes worldwide use the long-range cross-laminated bamboo beams as building materials (Suhaily et al., 2013).


Similarly, the other uses of bamboo in construction are boards, ceilings design, walls, floors, doors, stairs, roof, and window frames are made from bamboo.


Bamboo Plastic Composite (BPC)

BPC is an environmentally friendly mixture of plastic and bamboo that contains premium wood flour and recycled plastic. It has better mechanical properties and has the potential to reduce the dependence of plastic (Xian et al., 2018). The improvement of the polyvinylchloride (PVC) content upgrades BPC mechanical properties. Higher PVC content in Bamboo–PVC composite enhances dimensional stability and durability, which is due to the lower density and higher porosity of bamboo as compared to PVC (Wang et al., 2008).


The few applications of BPC are indoor flooring, outdoor decking, fence, car interior, garden railing, outdoor flower pot, and outdoor living space. Besides, BPC has the significant potential to replace plastic plates, spoons, and cups.


Elastomer composites

Short bamboo fibres added into elastomer polymer matrix like natural rubber provides great mechanical performances. Similarly, the bonding agents like silane, hexamethylenetetramine, and phenol-formaldehyde play a vital role in acquiring adhesion between rubber and fibres (Ismail et al., 2002). Elastomer composites use to make tires, gloves, and other complex-shaped mechanical goods. 


The carbon black-conventional reinforcing filler improves elastomer properties. It is used by tires manufacturer for obtaining improved modulus, durability, and increasing tire's service life (Abdul Khalil et al., 2012). The utilization of different natural fibres as filler to replace burned fossil fuels in the rubber polymer matrix produces high-quality tires. 


Bamboo Papers

In the US alone, 200 million tons of wood are required annually in producing paper and related products. Only one-third of the total volume of paper in the US is produced from a recovered fibre while the other two-thirds come from pulpwood, wood chips, and different residues obtained from harvested trees (Bowyer et al., 2014). This data indicates the potential of bamboo shoot in the paper and pulp industry and shifting away from reliance on the timber industry.


Further, bamboo sheets are known to degrade rapidly compared to hardwood sheets and thus decompose quickly (Win and Okayama, 2011). Bamboo's primary wood density is very high, i.e. 0.85g/cc. So, it can be mixed with fast-growing Trema orientalis with low density to produce a quality paper (Jahan et al., 2015). Similarly, fibre fractionation with an appropriate mixture of hardwood and bamboo (approx. 3:1) enhances the strength and printing properties of the paper (Sood et al., 2005).


Food and Medicinal values

Most of the Asian countries, such as Nepal, India, Bhutan, China, Thailand, and Vietnam use young and soft bamboo shoots as food products and medicinal values.


Bamboo shoots are rich in proteins, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins, and dietary fibers. Besides, the extracts of bamboo shoots have medicinal values including anti-oxidant, anti-fungal, anti-microbial, and anti-inflammatory. It is available commercially as food products, such as food additives, canned shoots, juice, fermented shoots, pickle, and powder (Singhal et al., 2013). Bamboo shoots can play a vital role in poverty reduction especially in rural communities of developing countries.  


Bioenergy and Biofuel

Bamboo biomass is a potential bioenergy source as it is composed of lignocellulosic material and is non-food biomass. It is used as a source of energy in the form of solid, liquid, and gas which depends upon the treatment process. Solid biofuel is the most predominant form of bioenergy which is utilized as an alternative to firewood and charcoal. Principally, the bioenergy and biofuel generation process involves thermochemical and biochemical processes. All parts of the bamboo biomass utilize as an energy source.



Bamboo is lignocellulosic biomass that has excellent potential as a future bioresource for various commercial usages, such as bioenergy, biochemicals, and biomaterials through the biorefinery approach. However, the biorefinery applications of bamboo as the sustainable carbon dioxide neutral biomass requires more research and development in terms of environmentally friendly and cost-effective bioprocessing method, cultivation, and harvesting.


Therefore, collaboration among manufacturers, designers, and scientists are essential to achieve the quality materials that have implications for the companies, consumers, and society. Great design and balanced approach of material, environment, technology, commercial design, and idealism concerns will make a benefit without ecological effect. Low cost, accessible, and environmentally friendly bamboo biomass have attractive benefits for both environmental and socio-economic development. The highlight and implementation of the new progress in innovative bamboo-based products can contribute significantly to achieving many of the UN SDGs.


For Citation: Poudel, R. C. (2020­). Bamboo Biomass- A Potential Bioresource for sustainable development. Biomass Feedstock,

Bamboo Biomass UN SDGs Bioenergy non-food biomass biofuel lignocellulosic materials Biorefining Biorefinery biocomposite cellulose

Memory Quiz


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