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Sustainable Solutions

May 27, 2008

Ateam of Baylor University researchers who have identified a variety of low-cost products that can be manufactured from coconuts in poor coastal regions showcased their work, in Dallas as representatives of the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance's (NCIIA) March Madness for the Mind conference. The annual event aims to demonstrate how students are bringing their best ideas from concept to commercialization.

The Baylor team joined a dozen other select groups and displayed their state-of-the-art innovations in a private exhibition for NCIIA conference registrants at the Nasher Sculpture Center in the Dallas Arts District. The select teams represent more than 200 collaborating groups of college students, faculty and industry mentors who have received NCIIA grants to support the development of their inventions over the past decade.

"We are very excited about the opportunity for more people to find out about what we are doing to serve Christ," said Stanton Greer, a Baylor mechanical engineering graduate student from Fort Smith, Ark., who is overseeing the Baylor project. "It is an honor to be put in the same class with so many other great projects and schools and to be able to bring glory to God on such a large stage."

Since coconuts are an abundant, renewable resource in almost all coastal regions near the equator, Baylor's team worked to create multiple products that could be manufactured from coconuts in those regions using simple and inexpensive technology. For this event, they focused on two specific products: binderless particle board made from dried coconut husks, and filler for polymeric composites made from finely ground coconut shells. The team also is developing a franchising business model created with Sustainable Rural Enterprises, a Philippine coconut co-op. Baylor researchers hope that the technologies in development will allow farmers to increase the value of their coconuts from 5 cents to 50 cents each, increasing their annual income from $500 to $5,000.

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