The Centre for Composite Materials, Kalasalingam University, in Krishnankoil of Virudhunagar district has undertaken research to replace plastic with coconut sheath and luffa (ribbed gourd) fibre in the making of helmets. Research is also going on to replace brass impellers in motor pumps with those made with these natural fibres.
“This is aimed at not only bringing down the cost of the products, but also producing eco-friendly ones,” said the head of the centre, J.T. Winowlin Jappes. Stating that India was one of the largest exporters of coir and coir products, he said the coconut sheath was, by and large, a waste.
The sheath, a naturally woven fibre, could replace plastic which was predominantly used for making helmets, he said.
The research was all about binding layers of coconut sheath with coats of polyester resin and moulding them into the desired shape with compression moulding machine.
Stating that the research proved that the sheath-polyester mould had similar mechanical properties that of plastic, he said that it had impact resistance equivalent to that of plastic helmets. The research was going on for six months.
On the natural fibre impeller, Dr. Jappes said that the cost of the product could be lesser by 60 to 70 per cent. “Since the natural fibre was lesser in weight when compared to that of brass, it could cause less vibration and thereby consume less power. Besides, the motor pump would cause less noise,” he said.
The researchers had used two impellers made up of natural fibre in a motor pump on the university premises. It had revealed that the water discharge by natural fibre impeller was equivalent to that of the commercially available brass impellers.
The lifetime study and the study on performance of the impeller in different environments, like in water and oil, were under way.