Researchers at Baylor University are have come up with a method to turn coconut husks -- which would otherwise become waste -- into car parts. Talk about your new-car smell!
The outer husks (which you normally don't see in the grocery store) have been blended with polypropylene fibers, then hot-pressed to become car parts that are both strong and durable, such as trunk liners, floorboards and car-door covers. (Alas, this doesn't replace metal quite yet, but it does take take the place of synthetic polyester fibers.)
Under existing farming conditions, coconut husks tend to become potentially dangerous waste. According to project leader Walter Bradley, the husks are either burned or thrown away. The discarded husks can also become a health hazard, as they gather water and become a breeding ground for malaria-bearing mosquitoes.
Not only would this technique create sustainably produced products, it also benefits coconut farmers by giving them a new market for their products and increasing their income.
No word yet on when this idea would be commercialized, but still, I look forward to seeing where this research goes next.