Coconut water and coconut oil are taking the world by storm.

Health nuts claim coconut oil offers a variety of benefits over other oils. And coconut water is a good way to add potassium to any diet.

Or maybe you’ve heard of coco-biodiesel?

No, it’s not a chocolatey cereal.

Coco-biodiesel creators assert the fuel is just like regular diesel fuel but far cheaper and less harmful to the environment. And made from coconut.

Despite the popularity of coconut meat to create these products, coconut husks as a material hasn’t quite caught on.

Unless you remember a certain 1975 British comedy where coconut husks stole the scene: “Are you suggesting coconuts migrate?” Anyone? Just me?

From cat litter to packing material, coconut husks have a variety of uses. In fact, coconut husk fibers are naturally absorbent and biodegradable. That’s why they’re being used to control soil erosion in the Philippines.

But there are still a lot of husks. And it’s a growing problem.

The coconut waste issue

Several countries have heavily invested in coconut agriculture, which has led to a buildup of agricultural waste. India alone produces 3.18 million tons of husks a year. That amounts to 60 percent of India’s native waste.

To alleviate the volume of discarded husks, these shells are burned by the thousands.

There is another issue with burning them, however. According to multiple studies, burning coconuts causes a substantial amount of air pollution.

And coconut husks can’t just be left in piles. They take ages to decompose.

Coconut husks as an aggregate for concrete mix designs

To make concrete greener and reduce the impact of rejected coconut shells on the environment, researchers have been testing the use of coconut fibers as full or partial replacement for aggregates.

The ultimate goal is that concrete made of coconut husk aggregate could be used to produce low-cost housing for low-income areas around the world.

COCONUT CONCRETE FAST FACTS

  • Coconut shell aggregate concrete pipes could replace conventional reinforced concrete pipes.
  • Concrete hollow blocks using coconut shell aggregate had reduced workability and a much rougher texture, but they also had higher compressive strength compared to the control concrete bricks.
  • Coconut shell cement does not require pretreatment.
  • Thanks to their slight malleability, coconut shells are more resistant to crushing and other impacts. Maybe even more so than standard aggregates.

Early research shows that concrete with a partial coconut husk aggregate ratio is promising.

In time, perhaps husks will take a more prominent role as an aggregate. It certainly seems possible.

Continued reading

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