The most common building material for the construction of infrastructures such as buildings, roads, bridges and dams is reinforced concrete. This construction material utilizes concrete and steel as tension reinforcement. Concrete is relatively weak in tension, thus steel is needed to provide tension strength in concrete .For the past century, steel has been the material of choice to improve the compressive and flexure strength of concrete which are extremely essential in the construction of infrastructures. But steel, which is basically an iron ore, is a non-renewable resource. In addition, steel, though an excellent construction material, is quite expensive. The problem of availability of steel especially in rural areas is also a concern for constructors of infrastructures. Due to these pressing problems of steel’s high cost, non-renewability and availability in far-flung areas of the country, our National Government main thrust of renewed construction boom might experience another downtrend.
This study endeavored to provide an alternative to steel as reinforcement for concrete construction by introducing indigenous bamboo as concrete reinforcement. Bamboo is known as a high strength material. It has been utilized in the construction of many time enduring structures. Its compressive strength may reach up to 8000 pounds per square inch (psi) and its tension strength may reach up to 18,000 psi. The only concern is that it is an organic material thus the possibility of decomposition. Seasoning and treatment of bamboo is therefore necessary to preserve or improve its strength. In this study, three (3) chemical treatments applied to bamboo are studied to characterize its effect in the structural strength of reinforced concrete. These are formalin, borax and paint. To determine the effect of chemically treated bamboo as reinforcement, four mixtures of concrete were designed. These are the following: Control mixture (no bamboo reinforcement); Concrete reinforced with formalin treated bamboo; Concrete reinforced with borax treated bamboo; Concrete reinforced with paint treated bamboo.
A total of twelve (12) concrete cylinder specimens for ASTM compression test and twelve (12) beam specimens for ASTM flexure test were prepared.
The results of the test indicated that chemically treated bamboo significantly improved the strength of ordinary concrete. The best treatment of bamboo producing the highest strength in the specimens is borax. Borax treated bamboo increased the compression strength of ordinary concrete by 27% and increased the flexure strength of ordinary concrete by 166%. The study also showed that utilizing chemically treated bamboo (borax treated) as reinforcement for concrete instead of steel yields a 95% savings (P 288) in material and freight costs.