You can hear it in the halls of Detroit now. Gilligan!
An enterprising group of scientists at Baylor University in Texas have begun making car parts out of coconut husks. Not the brown, fuzzy exterior of the coconut you're used to seeing in the supermarket (the shell), but, rather, a very fibrous outer husk that possesses qualities that make it ideal for constructing items like trunk liners, floorboards, and interior door covers according to livescience.com.
What makes this significant? Typically, these interior bits and pieces are spun from synthetic polyester fibers. But coconut husks are hugely abundant in countries near the equator, and they are simply refuse to be burned or thrown away after the coconuts inside of them have been harvested. According to livescience, the husks can even pose a health hazard in countries like Ghana where they pile up and contain water where malaria-causing mosquitos breed.
"Preliminary testing shows that the coconut composites can meet the specifications for industrial tests," said engineering professor Walter Bradley. The husk fibers have proven lightweight but strong, and preliminary tests suggest they meet the requirements for industrial applications. Additionally, the fibers are naturally flame-resistant and don't emit harmful fumes.--Colin Mathews