Las Vegas, NV

March 3-7, 2026

Open Menu
Close Menu

Concrete innovations: Bamboo and flexibility



Concrete is one of the construction industry’s most extensively used materials. Advancements to concrete are in the works or already used for sustainability, strength and cutting costs.  

Bamboo-reinforced concrete 

The most useful advancement in cement for contractors right now is concrete reinforced by bamboo (rather than the more traditionally used steel reinforcement). A study from 2017 found bamboo-reinforced concrete to be a more cost-effective option than steel reinforcement. 

But what about strength? Steel’s tensile strength is about 23,000 pounds per square inch while bamboo is slightly stronger at 28,000 pounds. This is due to bamboo’s molecular structure. Molecules are packed more tightly in bamboo than in steel. 

Where bamboo needs to grow 

Bamboo is less expensive than steel and is much more sustainable. It grows rapidly, so it can be replenished quickly. In terms of environmental sustainability, it sounds like the perfect replacement. While it is certainly strong enough and supply is plentiful, bamboo does have some drawbacks. 

Because it is a plant, bamboo is prone to attracting insects and can degrade in water. However, some scientists are already working on ways to address those shortcomings.  Researchers are studying bamboo as a potential replacement for plastic pipes, too. 

The plant is already showing promise as a great material for low-cost housing. So, it’s time to start addressing bamboo-reinforced concrete’s use in other construction needs. 

Flexible concrete 

As concrete admixtures continue to evolve, bamboo’s shortcomings are already being addressed while introducing another concrete advancement: flexible concrete.  

A new additive creates concrete that is three times stronger and flexible. Specialists have also created a flexible concrete that uses waste emissions from coal power plants, giving the concrete a boost for being eco-friendly and still maintaining strength. This concrete also comes rolled ready to hydrate, making installation much quicker to save time and money. 

Aside from its sustainability and indirect cost savings, bendable concrete also has direct cost savings. In 2018, a new kind of engineered cementitious composites cost about 2.5 times more than traditional concrete while other ECC cost came to be about four times more. However, the cost can be offset by its strength. ECC material can have higher deformation capacity and a higher compressive strength. 

Public policy 

Historically, public policy can be slow to catch up to innovation, which is where current hinderances lie. However, smaller communities have seen success using sustainable concrete which in turn encouraged surrounding communities to adopt similar resolutions. Small to medium sized businesses who invest in these sustainable technologies can work on the community level that will lead to larger adoption, keeping your business ahead of the curve.

Subscribe to the CONEXPO-CON/AGG 365 weekly newsletter to receive more great stories like this.