Fiber to fortune Improved technology for producing coconut coir by-products

Market prospects for fiber extracted from coconut husk, which is usually underutilized except for its use as fuel, have given rise to technology innovations.

As one of the largest producers of coconut products, the Philippines stands to benefit from fully exploiting the potentials of coconut fiber for various industrial uses. The Metals Industry Research and Development Center of the Philippines have introduced improved coco coir processing machines: micro decorticator, slivering machine and twining machine.

The mechanized micro decorticating machine separates coir fibers of wasted coconut husks; while the slivering and twining machines produce strands of coir fibers and bundles of two-ply ropes which are also used as input materials for making geo-textile nets and other matting products.

The previous micro-decorticators use the crushing action of multiple, fixed blades to separate the fibers but the newly-designed decorticators were made of replaceable blades with holders. The holder is strategically welded on the rotating drum that spins at 2000 revolutions per minute. The design and configuration of blades cause the rapid separation of fibers and dust as the husks are crushed against a set of fixed counter blades arranged horizontally and parallel to the axes of the decorticating blades. From 8 hp, the improved machine is now run by a 14-hp diesel engine

Slivering machine is a motorized machine composed of crumpet, a motor, and a casing that holds the slivered bundle of strand. It is used for twisting the coir together in order to produce a rope-like strand. This is run by a single phase ½-hp electric motor instead of the ¼-hp motor used by its predecessor. It can produce 3-meter long of strands per minute while the old design is only capable of yielding a meter long of strand per minute.

The twining machine produces 2-ply rope of 4-6 mm diameter by intertwining the 2 strings of loose and twisted coco fibers through two conical spools. The rope or yarn will then be wound and spanned by a revolving spooler in the spindle assembly. The production capacity is about 96 kgs per day of twined fibers. The improved design is easy to operate because of the removal of the belt conveyor. And the increase in production capacity from 24 to 96 kgs per day is attributable to the use of flexible and collapsible spindle/spooler mechanism that markedly reduces the production cycle.

Equally flexible feature is the inclusion of a frequency inverter that allows the machine to twine not only coco coir but also other fibers like abaca, piña and others.

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