A student from Middlesex University has designed a smartphone made from bamboo, which he plans to release in the UK and Europe later this year.

23-year-old Kieron-Scott Woodhouse, from Shepherds Bush, designed the mobile phone in his spare time after getting frustrated with the lack of variety in the mobile phone market. The smartphone – called ADzero – is made from four-year-old organically grown bamboo, specially treated for durability.

The ADzero phone is roughly half the weight of an Apple iPhone and runs on the Android operating system. It features a “ring flash” camera, with a circular photographic flash around the camera’s lens that ensures very even illumination and minimises shadows. Ring flash is currently not available on any other mobile phone.

Bamboo was chosen to encase the phone because it was initially intended for the Chinese market, and Woodhouse wanted to use a locally-resourced sustainable material. It is a unibody design which means it is made from a single block of material.

After receiving an enthusiastic reception at the London Design Week 2011, Woodhouse decided to post the designs online, and was contacted by technology entrepreneur Adzero. which wanted to bring his ideas to life. The phone will be sold in “design aware” retailers and boutiques in the UK. Pricing has not yet been announced.

“Bamboo may seem like a strange material to use for a phone, but it’s actually extremely strong and very durable, perfect qualities for this kind of application,” said Kieron-Scott. “The whole experience so far has been incredible and completely unexpected. I can’t wait to see my mobile phone in shops this year.”

This is not the first time that bamboo has been used as a casing for consumer hardware. In 2008, Asus unveiled a laptop made of bamboo at Taiwan's IT Month exhibition. The device was launched as part of Asus's efforts to use renewable materials in products.

Bamboo grows quickly and is used widely throughout Asia in furniture, as well as construction scaffolding, and of course as food for pandas.