Thermo-hydro-mechanically modified cross-laminated Guadua-bamboo panels

  • Hector Archila Archila Santos

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Guadua angustifolia Kunth (Guadua) is a bamboo species native to South and Central America that has been widely used for structural applications in small and large-scale buildings, bridges and temporary structures. Currently, its structural use is regulated within seismic resistant building codes in countries such as Peru and Colombia. Nevertheless, Guadua remains a material for vernacular construction associated with high levels of manual labour and structural unpredictability. Guadua buildings are limited to two storeys due to the overall flexibility of the slender and hollow culms and its connection systems. Its axial specific stiffness is comparable to that of steel and hardwoods, but unlike wood, Guadua’s hollow structure and lack of ray cells render it prone to buckling along the grain and to transverse crushing. As a result, Guadua’s mainstream use in construction and transformation into standard sizes or engineered Guadua products is scarce. Therefore, this work focussed on the development of standardised flat industrial structural products from Guadua devising replicable manufacturing technologies and engineering methods to measure and predict their mechanical behaviour. Cross-laminated Guadua panels were developed using thermohydro-mechanically modified and laminated flat Guadua strips glued with a high performance resin. Guadua was subjected to thermo-hydro-mechanical (THM) treatments that modified its microstructure and mechanical properties. THM treatment was applied to Guadua with the aim of tackling the difficulties in the fabrication of standardised construction materials and to gain a uniform fibre content profile that facilitated prediction of mechanical properties for structural design. Densified homogenous flat Guadua strips (FGS) were obtained. Elastic properties of FGS were determined in tension, compression and shear using small-clear specimens. These properties were used to predict the structural behaviour of G-XLam panels comprised of three and five layers (G-XLam3 and G-XLam5) by numerical methods. The panels were assumed as multi-layered systems composed of contiguous lamellas with orthotropic axes orientated at 0º and 90º. A finite element (FE) model was developed, and successfully simulated the response of G-XLam3 & 5 panels virtually loaded with the same boundary conditions as the following experimental tests on full-scale panels. G-XLam3 and G-XLam5 were manufactured and their mechanical properties evaluated by testing large specimens in compression, shear and bending. Results from numerical, FE predictions and mechanical testing demonstrated comparable results. Finally, design and manufacturing aspects of the G-XLam panels were discussed and examples of their architectural and structural use in construction applications such as mid-rise buildings, grid shells and vaults are presented. Overall, this research studies THM treatments applied to Guadua in order to produce standardised engineered Guadua products (EGP), and provides guidelines for manufacturing, testing, and for the structural analysis and design with G-XLam panels. These factors are of key importance for the use of Guadua as a mainstream material in construction.
Date of Award18 Nov 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SponsorsColciencias, Amphibia BASE Ltd & Colfuturo
SupervisorMartin Ansell (Supervisor) & Pete Walker (Supervisor)


  • Bamboo
  • Engineering
  • Guadua
  • Non wood forest products
  • Renewable materials
  • Composite materials
  • Cross laminated timber
  • Structural panels
  • engineered wood
  • Laminated composites

Cite this