Coconuts are notoriously difficult to open. If youâ€™ve ever tried it (I have), you know that even before you get to the rock-hard shell, there is a thick, matty, impossible-to-pull-off husk encasing the nut entirely. While most of us would simply curse the stuff as we try to rip it away, scientists in Texas have instead thought â€œHey, this stuff would make a really strong composite material!â€
And so it does. Although the material made by said scientists requires the coconut husks to be mixed with polypropylene, which is a fossil-fuel based polymer (boo), it is pretty good, as materials go. Itâ€™s light, strong and stiff. Also, since coconut husks donâ€™t burn very well, the resulting composite is pretty un-flammable. These guys, working out of Baylor University, like the material so much that they are building floorboards, truck liners and car door interiors.
Is this really practical on a large scale? For those of us living in parts of the world where coconuts are limited to the grocery store, itâ€™s hard to imagine. But in more equatorially located countries, coconuts are everywhere. Whatâ€™s more, in places like Ghana coconut husks tend to get piled up around villages in mounds (pictured above), collect water and subsequently invite malaria-spreading mosquitoes to breed inside. So hopefully a market for husk-based material would help do away with these mounds.
The scientists are already working with a fiber manufacturer to produce some test batches of their materials. Seriously, if you put your mind to it, you can find a use for ANYTHING.
written by Martin, January 07, 2009
written by TirzhaZ, January 07, 2009
written by Cheryl Janis, January 07, 2009
written by Fred, July 22, 2009
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