The Major Products of Coir Industry and its Product Applications

Husk Chips are mature coconut husks sliced and cut as chips and sun-dried that are used as mulching materials for plantation crops. Its chemical components are lignin, ash, potassium, calcium, magnesium, nitrogen and protein. The moisture content is 10%

Coir is a fibrous material derived from coconut husks through decortication. Its color varies depending on the raw material and time of utilization. This coarse structural fiber is composed of vascular bundles and is similar to the rather stiff, hard fibers obtained from monocot leaves like abaca and sisal. The fiber is stiff, elastic, pliable resilient and resistant to bacterial attack. It has multiple applications, among them are:

  • As bristle fiber for upholstery cushion and car seat stuffing, mats, carpets, b rush and yarn.
  • The mattress fiber is used in the manufacture of filtration pads, insulation materials, mattresses, rugs, plant/pad liners and as caulking materials for boats.
  • Coir is also a good medium for plant growing and soil mulching.
  • It can be made into rope twines and cordages for agricultural purposes
  • It is used as geotextiles or erosion control nets. Geotextiles are coir twine woven into mats. They protect steep mountain slopes, road slopes and river banks against soil erosion. They also provide channel and shoreline stabilization
  • Fascines, otherwise known as fiber rolls, bio logs or gabions, are coir compressed in tubular fiber nets

Geotextiles and fascines act as planting medium for all functional and ornamental vegetation in most eroded areas. Thus, both coir products are best for erosion control. They are biodegradable and flexible since they follow the earth’s movements.

Coir Dust/ Coco Peat are the powder-like particle obtained from the fiber extracted from coconut husk. It is spongy in texture, rich in lignin and tannin and has a high water holding capacity. It is used extensively for horticultural purposes. It is used as a substitute for peat moss and as soil conditioning agent in golf courses and recreation parks. Coir dust is best for soil mulching, manure composting, seedlings and manure composting, seedlings and organic fertilizer.

Other uses of coir dust are as follows:

  • fuel
  • thermal insulation
  • packaging material
  • ion exchange resin substitute to treat toxic liquid waste from factories
  • alternative filler during fermentation of food residuals into animal feeds
  • substitute to carbon filters
  • filling material in the manufacture of panel boards
  • cleaning material of oil spills in industrial repair shops

Uses and Application of the Product:

Coco coir and coir dust invades all the needs for social and economic development; from household to industries, agriculture to technology, and environment to infrastructure. The products’ unique characteristics find a place in almost human endeavor towards advancement.

1. Industrial Production

The resilient characteristic of coco coir made it ideal material for making brushes, rugs and twines. It is also used as padding material for furniture making, nets and rolls. In the industrial field, coir has also found application as geo-textiles, textile materials in the form of bonded mats, filtering materials for drainage, wallboards, panel boards in the construction industry and briquettes. Coir is also used as industrial materials for boats, filtration pads and as carpet underlay.

The more important utilization of coir is for the production of car panels in the form of car seats, back pads, ceilings and other car parts. For this purpose, coir is transformed into rubberized sheets. Rubberized coir sheets are also suited for packaging scientific, electronics and other delicate equipment and products as it offers excellent protection and safety.

2. Agricultural Inputs

Coco coir has been proven to contain rooting hormone that is essential in propagating economically important plants and other ornamental varieties. Concerning its water holding capacity, coir can be used as plant pads, at par with sphagnum moss, plastic redwood and other containers for growing various kinds of both in door and outdoor horticultural species.

3. Environmental Rehabilitation

The continuing construction of infrastructure projects geared towards development compromises the environment and Mother nature as a whole. Coco coir plays an important role in environmental rehabilitation as its geo textiles are used to control soil erosion, which can damage both the terrestrial and aquatic ecology.
Studies reveal that one of the culprit in the imbalance of aquatic ecology is soil erosion that results to siltation and sedimentation of rivers and further brought to the sea.

Coir dust, the by product of coco coir is a residual non-fiber particle and has now gained economic importance. In previous years, it was considered a major problem in decorticating plants as to disposal and environmental implication. However, it is now being exported and used as substitute for peat moss, soil mulching and as component of organic fertilizer.

Major Users of the Product:

The major users are the industrialist, agriculturist and environmentalist:

  • Industrialists – the car manufacturers uses coir in car seats, back pads, ceiling insulators and other car parts. It is transformed into rubberized coir sheets and used by manufacturers of scientific and communications equipment for packaging, protection and safety. The construction industry uses it as briquettes, filtration pads and carpet underlay.
  • Agriculturist- uses coir as plant pads and substitute for sphagnum moss. It is also used as mulching material and soil conditioner. They likewise use the product as substitute for redwood and other container for growing various kinds of outdoor and indoor ornamental plants.
  • Environmentalists- Uses coir as substitute for peat moss for soil conditioning/amelioration. Geo textiles in form of bonded mats are used as filtering materials for drainage. Fascines are used to control soil erosion and for river bank protection. It is a biodegradable product considered to be environment friendly.

Byproducts/Waste

By weight, coir fibers account for about one-third of the coconut pulp. The other two-thirds, the coir pith (also known as coir dust), has generally been considered a useless waste material. Although it is biodegradable, it takes 20 years to decompose. Millions of tons sit in huge piles in the Philippines.

During the last half of the 1980s, researchers successfully developed processes to transform coir pith into a mulching, soil treatment, and hydroponic (without soil) growth medium that is used as an alternative to such materials as peat moss and vermiculite. Before being compressed into briquettes for sale, the coir pith is partially decomposed through the action of certain microbes and fungi. An Australian company has also recently begun turning coir pith into an absorbent product used to remediate oil spills.

The retting process used in coir fiber production generates significant water pollution. Among the major organic pollutants are pectin, pectosan, fat, tannin, toxic polyphenols, and several types of bacteria including salmonella. Scientists are experimenting with treatment options, and at least one coir manufacturing company claims to be treating its effluent water.

Prospects of Coconut Coir

The coco coir product has now gained international acceptance. Nationwide expansion of the project is underway. Dr. Arboleda opened so many coco coir factories around the country to support international demands. Groups, like cooperatives are now being encouraged to become partners in the manufacturing of this coco coir. The academe will always be part of the continuing research and development on coco coir production.

The Future

As improved technology increases production, industry groups and governmental agencies are actively promoting new uses for coir fiber. Geotextiles is one promising area. The annual world demand for geotextiles is 1.2 billion square yards (1 billion square meters) and growing. Although natural fibers account for only 5% of that, the proportion is expected to increase as more users turn away from non-biodegradable synthetics.

Another new product under development is an alternative to plywood that is made by impregnating a coir mat with phenol formaldehyde resin and curing it under heat and pressure.

For more information, contact:

Bicol University – Legaspi
Telefax No.: (052) 821-7939
www.bicoluniversity.byethost13.com

Bicol University – Manila Office
34-C St. Benedict Street
Paradise Village, Project 8, Quezon City
Tel. No.: (02) 929-2785

Philippine Coconut Authority
R & D Bldg Ellitical Road,
Diliman, Quezon City
Phones: (02) 962-2281, 928-1073
Web: www.pca.da.gov.ph

source: ilearn.gov.ph, photos from soest.hawaii.edu, i.livescience.com, photo from pilipinasecofiber.com

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