Washington: Researchers at Baylor University have developed a new way to transform coconut husks into automotive interiors.
They say that it is possible to make trunk liners, floorboards and car-door interior covers using fibers from the outer husks of coconuts, replacing the synthetic polyester fibers typically used in composite materials.
“Why coconuts? That’s the first thing that people ask,” the ‘Washington Times’ quoted engineering professor Walter Bradley, who is leading the research as saying.
“We knew coconuts were abundant – about 50 billion grow a year. But poor farmers, not big plantations, grow 96% of those coconuts. We wanted to figure out a way to make tings better for them, to create a viable new market for them,” Bradley added. Bradley said that the farmers, an estimated 11 million around the world, make about $500 a year. If the coconut car interiors gain traction, their incomes would triple, he added.
The “mechanical properties” of coconut fibers are as good or better than synthetic or polyester fibers. They also are less expensive and the stuff of the greenest dreams. “They’re better for the environment because the coconut husks would have otherwise been thrown away. Coconuts do not burn well or emit toxic fumes, which is crucial in passing 10 safety-performance tests required for commercial applications,” Bradley was quoted as saying. Various organizations in the United States are giving perks to hybrid and green cars that include parking benefits.