There is more to coconuts than you thought!
Coconuts are inseparable part of culture in most South Asian countries including India. Here, they are used as an auspicious objects to bless marriages, important ingredients in local cuisine as well as building materials. The coconut tree is indeed called the Kalpavriksha – which means the tree of life – in other words : every single part of the coconut tree can be used to our benefit. Yet we manage to waste some parts of it. In particular water from mature coconuts. India is one of world’s largest coconut cultivators and mature coconuts are harvested for their shells as well as the white flesh which then gets pressed into valuable coconut oil. Very few coconut processing units however process the water ( alert – this is not the tender coconut water) and every day a small coconut processing unit in India discards cca. 4000 litres of it. It is released into the drainage, from there it continues into the environment where it acidifies the soil. However this is not the only fate that can await the mature coconut water. Water from mature coconuts also happen to be the favourite food of Acetobacter Xylinum – a bacterium that feeds on it and ferments nano cellulose fibrils with astounding material properties. We, at Malai have found a way how to convert this matter into sheets of leather-like material with addition of natural fibres from banana stems, hemp and sisal. The material we produce is strong, flexible and compostable.