The current worldwide trend of increased industrial interest in renewable raw materials for technical applications should be explored further. For example, this should encompass fibre composites for the automotive industry or for similar applications for building and construction. The development of innovative technologies for plant fibre products for non-traditional uses has led to increased demand. Technical possibilities for the use and application for coir fibres have not been fully investigated.
Possibilities for the production of (non-bleached) paper pulp - which can be applied to paperboards for packaging - have been briefly explored by the CCRI. Further work of this kind is recommended, including more in-depth research on pulping technology.
The production of coir non-wovens for technical applications such as insulation materials, geotextiles, laminates and (bio-) filters should be encouraged. The availability of non-woven fibre products (e.g. interlacing/needle punched mats) of qualifiable/known specification in sufficient quantity on the market, will lead to substantial opportunities for product diversification.
The market for coir geotextiles for agricultural and horticultural application can be substantially expanded when product specifications can be given with confidence according to ISO/ASTM standards, and when the durability (e.g. resistance to bio-degradation) of the product is known with confidence.
The use of coir fibre in fibre reinforced composite applications has not been studied in-depth. Except for phenol formaldehyde resin matrix composites in fibreboards, the application of coir fibres has received little attention thus far. Use of composites with thermoplastics has been reported. Further research in this area should be undertaken.
Inorganic matrix composites such as fibre reinforced cement have been studied in several coconut producing countries with some commercial success, for example, in the Philippines. Domestic industry in India would benefit from the introduction of a similar programme at the CCRI, following through with discrete industrial developments.
Improvements with the production technologies required for rubberised coir manufacture are recommended. Promising markets for superior mattresses and upholstery made from rubberised coir could be exploited. This would require the development of adapted production technologies that are capable of producing consistently high quality products, and with reduced environmental impact.
The development of technologies for producing a tufted coir yarn on rubber mats would be advantageous to coir producers, with considerable market opportunities available.
Greater use of coir pith for horticultural applications (for peat replacement) is recommended; again, with considerable commercial opportunities available. Such markets have been little explored. The technical demands of mineral content and other relevant parameters have been established (e.g. the development of Dutch Horticultural Standards by RHP). Further, added value manufacturing is possible with producers adopting similar standards and encouraging manufacturers to produce to specification, with the certification of a product label attached. The CCRI could take an active role with developments of this kind, for example, with the establishment of certifying laboratory and ratification procedures.
The possibilities for improving the quality of coir yarn by novel spinning technologies should be investigated. Options to increase the fineness and softness of fibres by adapted wet processing technologies, and the improved mechanisation of combing and stretching (after softening) could lead to novel markets for coir fibre yarns.
R&D investigations are required for the use of additives such as fixing agents, brighteners, alternative (natural) dyestuffs and pigments, UV stabilizers and other auxiliary chemicals suitable for improving wet processing technologies for coir fibres manufacture.