Trivandrum: Call them new waves of energy. The endless stacks of coir pith that litter the shores of peninsular India can now benefit mankind as an energy resource, courtesy a path-breaking initiative by the Coir Board.
Tests conducted by the government-allied body have proven that electricity can be generated from the spongy coir pith which is traditionally considered waste – and used for nothing more than to fill low-lying lands. The success of the Coir Board’s research and development wing in the experiment has prompted the statutory organisation to set up a power generation project – a first of its kind in the country.
“We are in talks with a Mumbai-based firm which has agreed to found a 10 MW plant that would produce power using coir pith,” according to Prof. G Balachandran, Chairman of the Coir Board which functions under the Union Ministry of Small, Micro and Medium Enterprises. The proposed unit, with an estimated investment of Rs 50 crore, would come up in Thiruvananthapuram district, he revealed.
Power will be generated after removing the moisture from the coir pith. “The Mumbai firm has got patent rights for the special drier,” said the Chief of the Kochi-headquartered Coir Board, now celebrating its diamond jubilee year by organising a cross-country roadshow and a World Coir Fair in Delhi.
For continuous availability of raw material for the power unit, the Coir Board is launching a Kerala-level programme to guarantee scientific procurement of coconut husk. As the main raw material for coir, the husk is from which coir factories get the largely discarded coir pith.
Currently, only 30 per cent of the husk is being converted into coir. “That is only half the potential. Tractors of the Coir Board will take rounds of houses and farms that grow coconut trees, and collect the husk,” added Prof Balachandran. “Such a streamlining will also give a fillip to the coir industry in the state.
The futuristic endeavour comes just days after the Coir Board got into a pact with the Silk Board to develop a blended cloth using coir fibre with other natural fibres like sisal, jute and raw silk. The fabric will be used mainly as curtain and other furnishing materials.
Kerala Biz News