Demand for coconut shells up in State

Products made of activated carbon may bring some much-needed relief to growers

Coconut shells

Here’s why: One tonne of coconut shells is procured for Rs 4,000. Shell-based activated carbon is extensively used for refining and bleaching of vegetable oils and chemical solutions, water purification, recovery of solvents and gold. It is also used in gas masks and a wide range of filters.
For this, the coconut shell is carbonised using methods like pit, drum and destructive distillation. Coconut shell-based activated carbon units adopt steam activation process to produce good quality activated carbon.

Activated carbon is a non-graphite form of carbon which can also be produced from any carbonaceous material such as coal, lignite, wood, paddy husk and coir pith.
“Activated carbon made from coconut shell is superior to those obtained from other sources mainly because of its small macroporous structure. This renders it more effective for the absorption of gas or vapour and for the removal of colour and odour of compounds,” explained Coconut Development Board Karnataka Deputy Director H Vijay Kumar.

The Coconut Development Board which supports product diversification in the sector has started supporting various activated carbon projects in South India. “Even though takeover bids of native companies are looming on this sector, we dissuaded this because innovative products made out of activated carbon can give succour for the already emaciated coconut farmers in the country,” adds Vijay Kumar.
Global Ecocarb and Gowrishankar Chemicals are two companies engaged in the activated carbon export from Karnataka. “Over 60 per cent of our product is for export and the rest is given to petrochemical companies like Reliance, IOCL, HPCL, MRPL, NTPC, and few other state government companies. Our export during 2008-09 is 1,200 metric tonne,” said Gowrishankar Chemicals Managing Director T M Swamy.
“There is a global demand of 1.2 lakh metric tonne of charcoal annually for making activated carbon. Like Sri Lanka, India should also put blanket ban on charcoal export to expand this lucrative industry,” said Govind Bommi, Chairman and CEO Filtrex Holding.

Indo German Carbons Ltd, a Kerala-based company, also decided to make an investment of Rs 10 to 15 crore in the State for setting up a new plant. The company, which is a 100 per cent EoU (export oriented unit) having four manufacturing centres, earned revenues of Rs 70 crore in the last fiscal and is expected to touch Rs 90 crore in current fiscal.

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