An evergreen perennial plant that’s a favourite food source for pandas has helped Asa Green race to victory in the Automotive Technology Challenge. The use of bamboo, the first-year mechanical engineering student says, gave the McLaren judges plenty to chew on.
“With the world’s ever-increasing demand for more eco-friendly manufacturing and businesses’ desires to decrease cost and increase profits, a renewable and low-cost material is essential when developing new technologies,” says Asa. “Bamboo, with its unique structure and extraordinary capabilities, could provide a sustainable and cost-effective solution.
“Bamboo’s main advantage is its competitive pricing, costing around £10 per kilogram, as opposed to carbon fibre, which is roughly £240 per kilogram. This will be an essential feature when it comes to translating its use from high-performance cars to wider uses.
“Carbon fibre is often used in areas, such as the exhausts, which reach high temperatures. This would be an issue when replacing this material with bamboo as, in its natural state, it’s a highly flammable material.” The solution? “[Painting] the bamboo interior and exterior surface with a non-flammable lacquer or coating it with a non-flammable epoxy resin.”
Asa, who first learnt about the STEM Award when scrolling through his Instagram feed, adds: “Along with it being cheap, bamboo is also a renewable material. Replacing carbon fibre or other polymers with bamboo where possible could lead to a reduction in the manufacturing carbon footprint and a better brand image, considering the importance of sustainability in modern society.
“The use of organic resins and bamboo fibres would mean that it would be an entirely organic matrix. From what I’ve seen, using such a high percentage of organic material has never been done within the automotive industry.”