While biking near his home in Thailand, Paolo Cechetti noticed a man weaving raw coconut-husk fibers into bags. Cechetti, an engineer at the water-sports-equipment manufacturer Cobra International, is always hunting for techniques to make surfboards stronger and lighter. Typically that translates into a spin on a carbon-fiber-based core, but Cechetti decided to try using coconut fiber instead. The new Coco Mat core, which is now used in boards from Australian brand NSP, is stronger than carbon fiber—and more sustainable.
Designers begin to build the boards by separating and cleaning the coconut-husk fibers by hand. Next, they lay them out randomly, sandwich the layer of strands in fiberglass, and insert a polystyrene core. Finally, they place the construction into a vacuum mold and inject epoxy. Coconut fibers absorb less epoxy than other materials do, which reduces the weight of the board by as much as 30 percent. It also eliminates up to 40 percent of toxic materials from the process.
NSP Coco Mat Paddleboard
Length: 10.2 feet
Weight: 25.6 pounds
Price: From $1,325
This article originally appeared in the August 2013 issue of Popular Science. See more stories from the magazine here.
Men! There is no reason to continue suffering with a bald surf board. Now you can have hair on your board with all new "Coconut Hair Surf Board for Men"! Join right away, we currently already have over million members.
Joking about needing the no-no hair removal product for your surfboard aside - here's a great thing coconut husk is great for.
I work at a tree nursery which grows the evergreen seedlings tree planters put in the ground for reforestation. Our growth medium is mostly peat moss, with some ground and sterilized styrofoam (recycled from the old or damaged styro blocks the seedlings are grown in) and coconut husk. The "coco" is the magic ingredient.
Peat, when wet will stay wet when watered, but only at the surface. Let it dry up even a little bit and it will repel water. The coco strands act like tiny wicks, distributing water through the root plug meaning even water for root growth and less water used. Landscapers take note.
Don't know how available it may be in your area (especially for the home gardeners), but it comes in dried compressed blocks about 1'x8"x8" that have to be soaked in water - hot to start - for about 24 hours before it can be incorporated in to the growth medium. But it is a great tool for adding deep water absorption to plantings.
And if you can have healthier plants and save water to boot - who cares about a little extra "hair"?