The Advantages of Using Indian Coconuts for Activated Carbon
While many people are familiar with a traditional image of a coconut—the brown, hairy, slightly oval shell, sometimes cracked open to reveal a thick, white layer of flesh inside—not many people realize that there are a number of different types of coconut that grow throughout the world. Each type has different qualities and characteristics that make it well-suited for certain uses. A coconut can even be used for different purposes throughout the stages of its life because it changes so dramatically as it grows.
Despite the fact that there are different types of coconuts, there is only one species of coconut. The coconut tree, cocos nucifera, is a member of the palm family. The name “coconut” comes from the early Spanish word coco, which means “head.” If you look closely, you can see three dots on the coconut which sort of resemble a face—hence the name’s origins.
All coconuts are made up of three layers: the exterior of the coconut is called the exocarp, the fleshy central layer is called the mesocarp, and the hard inner layer that protects the seed is called the endocarp. In the traditional coconut image—brown shell and white meat—we are seeing only the endocarp and the flesh around the seed, or “coconut apple,” which has dissolved.
It should also be noted that the exterior layer changes over the coconut’s lifetime: most coconuts start off with a shiny, smooth exocarp that is red, green or yellow and gets more brown as the coconut grows. This early exterior color is sometimes used for labeling various types of coconuts.
Dwarf Coconuts and Tall Coconuts
Coconuts are generally divided into two groups: dwarf coconuts and tall coconuts. As you might imagine, dwarf coconut trees are shorter and more stout with smaller fruit, better suited to gardens and yards. Tall coconut palms create a larger fruit, thrive in coastal climes and can reach nearly 50 feet in height!
Tall coconut trees are the more common type because they can cross-pollinate, which means that multiple different types of tall coconut trees can work together to create new types and spread more widely. Dwarf coconut trees, on the other hand, self-pollinate, which means there is less variety in dwarf coconut trees.
Coconuts are further categorized into wild coconut trees and domesticated coconut trees which are used for commercial purposes. Beyond this, the names of different types of coconuts often have to do with where the coconut is grown and its color. Some examples include the Cameroon Red, a dwarf coconut, or the West African Tall.
Most of the coconut trees grown in India are of the tall variety, with two of the most prevalent being the West Coast Tall (grown in states on India’s west coast) and the East Coast Tall (grown in states on the country’s east coast). Indian coconuts have thicker shells in comparison to other varieties of coconut, such as the thinner-shelled coconuts grown in Vietnam and Indonesia.
This thick shell makes Indian coconuts particularly well-suited to the production of activated carbon. Not only will these thicker shells provide a higher productivity rate—i.e., more activated carbon per processed coconut—but also the activated carbon that is derived from thicker shells will be harder and more dense. A harder, denser activated carbon substance means greater durability of activated carbon blocks and less waste due to breakage. Additionally, this durability means carbon filters will release fewer “fines,” the loose carbon material that sometimes appears in filtered water as a granular, black or grey substance when a new carbon filter is installed.
A Wide Variety
Coconuts present a world of variety within a single species. With so many variables—tree size, fruit size, color, location of growth—coconuts are suitable for a number of different industrial and commercial purposes. Indian coconuts are one of the world’s best materials for the creation of activated carbon, but they are also used in the creation of a world of products, including food and body products, construction material and garden mulch, just to name a few. These versatile plants are a national treasure for India and in many other countries across the world.