The world’s poor coastal regions may have a new market for waste coconut husks, following research at Baylor University, Waco, Texas, that uses coconut fibers in automotive trunk liners, floorboards and interior door covers. The technology uses coconut fiber to replace synthetic polyester fiber in compression-moulded composites. Coconut fibers are fire-resistant and less expensive than other fibers—and for the estimated 11 million coconut farmers in the world, they are a waste product that can become a cash crop.
Baylor is working with Hobbs Bonded Fibers, Waco, Texas, a manufacturer of commercial and industrial nonwoven fibers, on floor mats for four automakers. The parts are going through certification tests to see if the fiber meets safety performance specifications. “What we hope to do is create a viable market for the poor coconut farmer,” says Dr. Walter Bradley, Distinguished Professor of Engineering at Baylor. “Our goal is to create millions of pounds of demand at a much better price.” For more information, visit www.baylor.edu/pr/news.php?action=story&story=55136.