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Car Parts Made Out of… Coconut Husks?

Coconuts are notoriously difficult to open. If you’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 “Hey, this stuff would make a really strong composite material!”

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. It’s light, strong and stiff. Also, since coconut husks don’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, it’s hard to imagine. But in more equatorially located countries, coconuts are everywhere. What’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 buy viagra ship fedex produce some test batches of their materials. Seriously, if you put your mind to it, you can find a use for ANYTHING.

Via Livescience

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Comments (10)Add Comment
Coconut and Soy?
written by nt97surferx, January 07, 2009
Henry Ford used soy meal to produce a soy plastic, reinforced with wheat fibers, hemp, and other cellulose materials. Wonder if using coconut husk fibers and soy plastic might make for a strong, bio friendly material for car bodies?

Nothing new here
written by garry, January 07, 2009
Back in the early 1960's BMC (British Motors Corporation) used coconut fibers for seat padding in the Mini Minor 850.
Innovation is good
written by Martin, January 07, 2009
It is great that alternatives are being tested. We can only be happy that there are companies going a different route.
written by TirzhaZ, January 07, 2009
I remember when bamboo was first being used in consumer materials. I hope to hear more about this in a year when the canada viagra online coconust husk industry is more widespread. It'll be interesting to see the various products made and if the impact is overwhelmingly good. And more money for equatorial villages can't hurt.
Can it be RECYCLED? Is it biodegradable
written by David Hau, January 07, 2009
These are the important questions.

If adding these polymers turns the husks into toxic materials that can't be recycled and are only disposed of in the landfill...then this is not really a solution.
other products...
written by Craig, January 07, 2009
since the coconut husks are nearly inflammable could they be incorporated into other items as well like maybe roofing shingles or other building products?
I'm impressed
written by Cheryl Janis, January 07, 2009
and an eco-girl-geek. This is exciting news and I will share it with my readers on Planet Pink n' Green -
I'm also impressed
written by Les, January 08, 2009
I really really like the idea of people thinking outside the square, looking a waste product, and wondering "is there is something I can do with that?"

Just because plastic, cement and steel are widely used materials, doesn't mean they are the best that can ever be made. I think it's really exciting the possibilities of what new, and more sustainable materials can be discovered / invented.
Great thought!
written by Anastazia, January 20, 2009
I was extremely happy when I read this...(minus the polymers). I just really hope that instead of settling for this less than perfect mixture, they pursue other, "greener" means... Thinking about recycling, production, make up...I feel like sometimes when scientists get theses great ideas they stop there. I hope to see this evolve into something really great!
written by Fred, July 22, 2009
hopefully they will work out better than the metals and plastics we are using now

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