Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering


Faysal Kolkailah


Today’s environmental concerns have led a renewed search in industry to find new sustainable materials to replace non-renewable resources. President Barack Obama also quoted in the recent 2012 Presidential Debate “that there is a need to build the energy sources of the future and invest in solar, wind, and bio-fuels.” Bio-composites are believed to be the future and the new substitute for non-renewable resources. Bio-composites are similar to composites in that they are made up of two constituent materials; however the main difference is that bio-composites are made from natural fibers and a biopolymer matrix. This research investigates the buckling behavior of bamboo and will analyze and determine the slender ratio that will induce buckling when bamboo is used as a column. Along with the investigation of the bamboo under buckling, this study will also show the potential of bio-composites to replace non-renewable resources in industry through experimental and numerical analysis. However, in order to study the buckling behavior of the bamboo, the mechanical characteristics of the bamboo and optimal curing treatment first had to be established. This is because, in order for bamboo to acquire proper strength characteristics, the bamboo must first be treated.

Due to the scarcity of bamboo material in the lab, the obtainment of the mechanical properties of the bamboo as well as the optimal curing treatment was done in collaboration with Jay Lopez. In order for bamboo to acquire proper strength characteristics, the bamboo must be treated. In the first study, a total of four different types of natural treatments were analyzed to optimize the mechanical characteristics of bamboo. To assess each curing method, tensile and compression tests were performed to obtain the mechanical properties. Due to each bamboo culm having different thicknesses and cross sections, the specific strength property is used to normalize the data and allow for easy comparison and assessing of each curing method equally. The specific strength parameter is defined as the ultimate stress divided by the density of the material. These curing treatments consisted of four thermo-treatments, three different percentages of salt treatments, one lime treatment, and one oil treatment. The thermo-treatments consisted of heating the bamboo internodes in an autoclave with no pressure at 150oF, 180°F, 200°F, and 220°F. The experimental results of the thermo-treatments determined that bamboo obtains higher mechanical properties as well as reduced weight when heated at higher temperatures. This is explained by the increasing bound water extracted from the bamboo material at higher temperatures. In addition to finding the optimal heat treatment, the internodes of bamboo were soaked in natural additives that included a 3%, 6%, and 9% Instant Ocean sea salt solution, a Bonide hydrated lime solution, and a Kirkland canola oil solution for approximately five days and then heat treated at the optimal temperature of 220°F. The experimental results showed that all of the different additives had a significant effect on the mechanical properties.

After determining the mechanical properties of each curing method, the results were then analyzed through a trade study. The trade study parameters consisted of weight-drop of the material, the specific strength, and the ultimate stress for both compression and tension. Each parameter of the trade study is kept unbiased as the weighting of each parameter is set equal to each other. The results of the trade study indicated that the 3% salt solution was the optimal curing treatment, yielding a higher specific strength value for both compression and tension, along with a significantly lower weight-drop after curing.

After we came up with the optimal treatment, the buckling behavior of bamboo was investigated. The buckling analysis was investigated to determine at what slenderness ratio the bamboo would buckle when used as a column. A total of seven cases were investigated using different lengths, that ranged from 1.5” to 10”. Through experimental results, it was determined that a slenderness ratio above approximately 34.7 would induce global buckling to the bamboo column.

The last investigation of this study consisted of building a small prototype wall structure using bio-composites. The prototype wall structure was manufactured using a combination of bamboo and a bi-directional woven hemp fabric. The dimensions of the prototype were 15.13” long and 7.75” tall. The wall structure was tested under compression in the Aerospace Structures/Composites Lab and the Architectural Engineering Department’s high bay laboratory. The results of the experimental test on the wall showed great potential for bio-composites, as the structure withstood a force of 46,800 pounds.

A numerical analysis technique was also employed through the finite element method using the Abaqus software. The purpose of the finite element method was to validate the experimental results by comparing the buckling behavior of the tests. The numerical analysis showed very good agreement with the experimental results.