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Bamboo Makes Two Cars Stand Out

This year at Shell Eco-marathon Americas 2012 there has been a lot of conversation around the "bamboo cars."
Bamboo Car

Students from Westside High School prepare their car for the race at Shell Eco-marathon Americas 2012 on Friday, March 30 in downtown Houston.

Two schools, Westside High School and Stevens Institute of Technology, have elected to construct their cars using bamboo. Both schools did an extensive amount of research and found that bamboo is strong and can easily hold up under stress.

This is Westside High School’s second year to compete in Shell Eco-marathon Americas, and after last year, they wanted to stand out in some way. Seeing bikes made from bamboo inspired the team to remake last year’s model with bamboo, and they also replaced the gasoline engine with an electric battery.

Last year, their metal-framed car was the lightest vehicle, and the accessories on this year’s bamboo vehicle make it roughly the same weight.

For Stevens Institute of Technology, the students had no experience with metal work or welding. After months of research, they also decided to work with bamboo. They said it’s a challenge to maneuver since all the pieces are straight. They found and cut down the bamboo from a friend’s yard, and to increase its strength, they heated the bamboo for more than two hours at 200 degrees to draw out the moisture.

The car is the team’s senior project, and they hope they have inspired future senior classes to be just as creative. Like all Shell Eco-marathon Americas teams, this team has poured their heart and soul into the project, and they are looking forward to good results. However the results turn out, these two teams have certainly captured the attention.