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Visualising heat flow in bamboo could help design more energy-efficient and fire-safe buildings

last modified Nov 13, 2019 03:38 PM

Modified natural materials will be an essential component of a sustainable future, but first a detailed understanding of their properties is needed. The way heat flows across bamboo cell walls has been mapped using advanced scanning thermal microscopy, providing a new understanding of how variations in thermal conductivity are linked to the bamboo’s elegant structure. The findings, published in the journal Scientific Reports, will guide the development of more energy-efficient and fire-safe buildings, made from natural materials, in the future.

 

The building sector currently accounts for 30-40% of all carbon emissions, due to both the energy-intensive production of the materials (predominantly steel and concrete), and the energy used in heating and cooling the finished buildings. As the global population grows and becomes increasingly based in towns and cities, traditional building approaches are becoming unsustainable.

Renewable, plant-based materials such as bamboo have huge potential for sustainable and energy-efficient buildings. Their use would dramatically reduce emissions compared to traditional materials, helping to mitigate the human impact on climate change. This approach would also help keep carbon out of the atmosphere by diverting timber away from being burnt as fuel. 

A better understanding of the thermal properties of bamboo provides insights into how to reduce the energy consumption of bamboo buildings. It also enables modelling of the way bamboo building components behave when exposed to fire, so that measures can be incorporated to make bamboo buildings safer. 

Read the full University of Cambridge article here.

Click here for the Mapping thermal conductivity across bamboo cell walls with scanning thermal microscopy, Scientific Reports article.