Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 11

This article was downloaded by: [University of Stellenbosch]

On: 04 October 2014, At: 03:14


Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered
office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

International Journal of Green Energy


Publication details, including instructions for authors and
subscription information:
http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/ljge20

Study of Physical Properties of Coir Pith


a b
I. Neethi Manickam & P. Subramanian
a
Senior Lecturer, Department of Mechanical Engineering , National
Engineering College , Kovilpatti, India
b
Professor & Head, Centre for Energy & Environmental Science
And Technology (CEESAT), National Institute of Technology ,
Tiruchirapalli, India
Published online: 08 Dec 2006.

To cite this article: I. Neethi Manickam & P. Subramanian (2006) Study of Physical Properties of Coir
Pith, International Journal of Green Energy, 3:4, 397-406, DOI: 10.1080/01971520600873384

To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01971520600873384

PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE

Taylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (the
“Content”) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor & Francis,
our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as to
the accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinions
and views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors,
and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor & Francis. The accuracy of the Content
should not be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sources
of information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for any losses, actions, claims,
proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoever or
howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to or arising
out of the use of the Content.

This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Any
substantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,
systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms &
Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-
and-conditions
International Journal of Green Energy, 3: 397–406, 2006
Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN: 1543-5075 print / 1543-5083 online
DOI: 10.1080/01971520600873384

STUDY OF PHYSICAL PROPERTIES OF COIR PITH

I. Neethi Manickam
Senior Lecturer, Department of Mechanical Engineering, National Engineering
College, Kovilpatti, India

P. Subramanian
Downloaded by [University of Stellenbosch] at 03:14 04 October 2014

Professor & Head, Centre for Energy & Environmental Science And Technology
(CEESAT), National Institute of Technology, Tiruchirapalli, India

Coir pith is a byproduct of the coir industry, producing more than 7.5 million tones annu-
ally in India. It can be used as fuel in loose form or in briquettes. This study investigates
different physical properties of coir pith with respect to its moisture content (10.1 to
60.2%w.b.) and particle size (0.098 to 0.925mm). Porosity and particle density varied from
0.623 to 0.862 and from 0.939 to 0.605 gm/cc respectively. Bulk density and static coeffi-
cient of friction against mild steel were in the range of 0.097 to 0.341gm/cc and 0.5043 to
0.6332 respectively. Models were developed for the above properties.

Keywords: Moisture content; Particle size; Bulk density; Porosity; Particle density;
Coefficient of friction

INTRODUCTION
With regard to the energy shortage and environmental issues, it is widely accepted
that renewable energy will play a major role in the foreseeable years. One of the most
important energy resources, particularly for developing countries, is biomass. It has been
reported that over 33 percent of energy consumption for developing countries can be sup-
plied from this kind of energy resource (Sayigh, 1999; Hall and House, 1995). Moreover,
its photosynthesis process will compensate the carbon dioxide generated during biomass
energy conversion.
Thus, a nearly zero net gain for carbon dioxide can be achieved from this process.
Agricultural residues account for the largest amount of biomass available worldwide.
Hence, for developing and agricultural-based countries, the utilization of the residues
from agricultural sectors as primary or secondary sources of energy is considerably attrac-
tive. The production of agricultural crop residues in India is estimated over 1300 million
tones per year, compared to about 1400 million tones of firewood. In total, the generation
of potential energy from the biomass is estimated to be in the order of 1.57 × 1012 MJ/year
and 1.51 × 1012 MJ/year respectively from the crop residues and the firewood (Srivastava
and Tomar, 1993). The residues are available as a free, indigenous and environmentally

Address correspondence to I. Neethi Manickam, Senior Lecturer, Department of Mechanical Engineering,


National Engineering College, Kovilpatti 628 503, India. E-mail: inm_nec@rediffmail.com.

397
398 I.N. MANICKAM AND P. SUBRAMANIAN

friendly energy resource. It is observed that several kinds of agricultural residues are
available and ready to be utilized as fuels. One of such agricultural waste material is coir
pith. The pith material forming non-fibrous tissues of the coconut husk is generally
referred to as coir pith and also coco-peat (Bhowmic and Debnath, 1985). It is a spongy
material obtained during the process of extracting fiber from coconut husks. It is also a
hydrophilic material, which means that moisture spreads readily over these surfaces.
When first produced, coir pith is a light tan color but darkens with age to a chocolate
brown.
The husk accounts for about 50 to 60 percent of the total weight of the nut and 70
percent of the husk constitute the coir pith. Coir pith obtained from the retted process con-
sists of low lingo-cellulostic material compared to the pith from the un-retted mechanical
process (Sathyanarayana et al., 1984). According to Arumugam and Dhamodaran (1993),
Downloaded by [University of Stellenbosch] at 03:14 04 October 2014

there are about 84,000 retting and coir extracting units in Kerala producing white fiber.
There are about 500 coir factories in Tamilnadu for mechanical extraction of coir fiber
(Kamaraj, 1993). A considerable amount of coir pith—in the order of 7.5 million tonnes—
is produced annually in India and accumulated in the coir industrial yards, causing envi-
ronmental pollution and disposal problems (Kamaraj, 1994). Therefore, attempts are being
made to convert this waste material into useful products.

PRESENT USAGE OF COIR PITH


Accumulation of coir pith has always been a problem as its excess production
contaminates water sources in the coir producing regions. If it is not removed in time the
tropical water will percolate through it and absorb tannin and other harmful chemicals,
which contaminates the sources of surface and ground water. The utilization of coir pith in
many countries as a soil conditioner and a plant growing medium paved the way for eco-
nomic utilization of the potentially valuable waste product into an environment friendly prod-
uct of world demand, thus solving the waste disposal problem faced by the coir producers.
The spongy structure of coir pith facilitates retention of water. It absorbs over eight
times its weight of water. It has the stability for the conditioning of farm soil for retention
of moisture for mulching and as a receptacle for slow release of added nutrients to the
crop. Most of the nations are now looking at India as the main source for coir pith. The
UK, US, France, Australia and the Netherlands are the potential markets at present. Coir
pith decomposes in the soil very slowly as its pentosan lignin ratio is less than 0.5, which
is the minimum required for slow decomposition of organic matter in the soil. The coir
pith is excellent surface mulch in all kinds of soil.
One of the suggested applications of pith was to use it as an ingredient to improve
the manurial value of the soil. But the actual manurial value of the pith is low compared to
the other standard manures. The composted coir pith can be used for crop husbandry. Coir
pith compost is used as a source of plant nutrition, particularly rice. When compared to
other major nutrients, the potassium is in higher quantity in the coir pith. The composted
coir pith can be used as growing medium in green houses, vineyards, flowerbeds, nurser-
ies and lawns. It is also used as carrier material for bio fertilizers and as casing soil in
mushroom cultivation.
As coir pith is discarded as waste from coir processing industries, the resulting
carbon is expected to be an economical product for the removal of toxic heavy metals
from industrial wastewater. The activated carbon prepared from coir pith is used as adsor-
bent for adsorption of toxic heavy metals such as, Hg, Pb, Cd and Cu from industrial
PHYSICAL PROPERTIES OF COIR PITH 399

wastewater (Kadirvelu et al., 2001). Turbidity and color of distillery wastewater can be
removed by using Fe Cr impregnated coir pith as flocculent (Namasivayam et al., 1994).
Dyeing industry wastewater is treated using carbonized coir pith as adsorbent (Namasivayam
et al., 1994).
Attempts have been made to prepare particleboards using coir pith as raw material.
It has been found that extreme compressive pressure is required for production of the
stable boards (Jayadeep et al., 1991). Lightweight building bricks were produced; mixing
the pith with the clay and its applications for use has not been investigated in detail
(Natarajan, 1995).
Coir pith as an insulating material for Chula revealed that it serves as a heat absor-
bent medium. The coir pith in loose form does not burn well due to the high lignin content
and could not be used as an efficient fuel. It will burn without any flame, producing heat
Downloaded by [University of Stellenbosch] at 03:14 04 October 2014

due to its own calorific value (12, 600 KJ/kg) (Devadas et al., 1993). It can be mixed with
finely ground shell charcoal at 90:10 and briquettes formed out of it are used as efficient
fuel (Thampan, 1991).
Though the utility of coir pith has been proved in different applications, an efficient
and accepted technology to its processing for optimum economic advantage is not yet
available to many of the promising entrepreneurs in the coir field. The situation calls for
economically sustainable technology for processing coir pith. In this study, the effect of
moisture content and particle size on porosity, bulk density, particle density and coeffi-
cient of friction were studied. The results may be helpful to study the combustion charac-
teristics and densification of coir pith.

PREPARATION OF SAMPLE
The coir pith available from coir industries is in loose form with high moisture
content and at different particle sizes. The moisture content and particle size play an
important role during the formation of briquettes. The experiments were conducted with
the coir pith obtained from different coir fiber industries located around Tenkasi, Tamil-
nadu. The coir pith was dried and sieved into different particle sizes. A certain amount of
coir pith from different particle sizes at different moisture levels was taken as the sample.

EXPERIMENT
Determination of Moisture Content
The moisture content of the material was investigated by adapting the ASAE
S358.2 DEC99 moisture measurement method. 30 gram of coir pith was taken as a repre-
sentative sample. The weight of the sample and container was evaluated by using an elec-
tronic balance. Next, the sample was dried in a laboratory oven cabinet at 103°C for 24 h.
After the removal, the material and its container were placed in desiccators to cool down
to room temperature. The sample was then re-weighed in order to calculate its moisture
content.
Three samples of the same type were tested at a time and the average value of
moisture content was recorded. The electronic balance used will measure to the near-
est 0.001gm. Thermocouple, having an accuracy of +/−0.5°C, was used to measure
the temperature and a digital clock with an error of 1 sec per year was used to measure
the time.
400 I.N. MANICKAM AND P. SUBRAMANIAN

Determination of Particle Size


The knowledge about the average particle size and their distribution facilitate the
selection of desired densification process. Depending upon the presence of a quantity of
different particle sizes, the densification of coir pith can be undertaken without any further
size reduction in order to form stable briquettes.
Sieve analysis is the most common method used to analyze the particle size in the
range of 0.075 to 3.00 mm approximately (Handerson and Perry, 1996). Since the particle
size of coir pith lies within this range, a differential sieve analysis method was used. In the
differential sieve analysis, the assumption is made that all the particles in a single fraction
are equal in size and that the size is the arithmetical mean of the mesh dimensions of the
two screens that define the fraction.
A vibratory type mechanical sieve shaker was used for determining the coir pith
Downloaded by [University of Stellenbosch] at 03:14 04 October 2014

particle size. Coir pith was placed on the top sieve and shaken for 20 min. By that time the
coir pith on the smallest sieve reached equilibrium. The fractions retained on all sieves
were weighed.
The sieves were calibrated to an accuracy of 1 μm. The electronic balance was used
to measure the weight fractions. The experiment was carried out three times and the aver-
age values were taken.

Determination of Porosity
Porosity is defined as the ratio of the volume of voids to the total volume (voids plus
solid). The porosity of the coir pith was determined by pressure bottle method (Mohsenin,
1978) and the apparatus used for this purpose is shown in Figure 1. The bottle-1 was com-
pletely filled with the coir pith of particular particle size. The valves 2, 3 and 4 were
closed. By opening the valve-1, air was blown into the bottle-2 and the valve-1 was
closed. The air pressure inside the bottle-2 was measured by ‘U’ tube manometer fitted to
this experimental set up by opening the valve-2 and the value is noted as ‘P1’. Then the
valve-4 was opened and sufficient time was allowed for the air in bottle-2 to fill the porous
space available in bottle-1. Now the pressure shown by the manometer was noted as ‘P2’.
The porosity (Po) was calculated by the following equation.

Figure 1 Porosity Apparatus.


PHYSICAL PROPERTIES OF COIR PITH 401

The difference in liquid level of the manometer was measured using a digital height
gauge with an accuracy of 0.01mm. The experiment was repeated three times and the
average values were recorded.

Po = (P1 − P2 ) / P2 (1)

Determination of Bulk Density


Bulk density of coir pith was determined by gently filling in a cylindrical jar of
known volume with the material and weighed. The knowledge of bulk density will be use-
ful while handling the material from the coir industries to the processing units and also for
Downloaded by [University of Stellenbosch] at 03:14 04 October 2014

the compaction process.


The electronic balance was used to measure the weight and it will measure to the near-
est 0.001gm. The volume of the coir pith was measured by a graduated cylindrical jar. In
order to check the accuracy of the jar, certain quantity of water was taken in the jar and it
was weighed in the electronic balance. The specific volume of water was verified and found
correct. The bulk density was calculated three times and the average value was recorded.

Determination of Particle Density


The particle density of the coir pith at various moisture levels and particle sizes was
calculated from the values of bulk density and porosity using the following equation.

Particle density = Bulk Density /(1 − Porosity) (2)

Determination of Coefficient of Friction


The coefficient of friction of coir pith was found out by placing the coir pith in a
bottomless container and pulled against the required surface. This method is commonly
used for determination of coefficient of friction of coarse, powdered and grain particles
(Viswanathan et al., 1990). The experimental set up is shown in Figure 2. Sreenarayanan
et al. (1988), for soyabean, used the same experimental set up. The coir pith particles
sieved into uniform size are filled in the bottom less container and a known weight was
placed over the sample. Weight was added over the pan. When certain weight was added
the container was started to move. The ratio of the pulling force to the normal force
(weight of coir pith + dead weight added) gives the coefficient of friction of particle
against the material being used. In this experiment, smooth, milled steel plates, having
surface roughness (Ra) values of 0.5 μm, were used because normally in briquettes manu-
facturing the machine components are made up of milled steel.
The electronic balance weighed the coir pith sample. Calibrated and stamped
weights were used for this experiment. A surface roughness tester of with an accuracy that
conforms to ISO class 3 was used to measure the surface roughness of the plate. The
experiment was repeated three times for each particle size and the average values were
recorded.
402 I.N. MANICKAM AND P. SUBRAMANIAN
Downloaded by [University of Stellenbosch] at 03:14 04 October 2014

Figure 2 Experimental set up for determining coefficient of friction

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION


Effect of Moisture Content and Particle Size on Bulk Density
of Coir Pith
The bulk density of the coir pith of different particle sizes under different levels of
moisture content is shown graphically in Figure 3. It was seen that the bulk density
increased with an increase in moisture content and decreased with an increase in the

0.40

0.35

0.30
Bulk Density (gm/cc)

0.25

0.20

0.15

0.10

0.05

0.00
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70
Moisture Content % (w.b.)
Particle Size, mm

0.925 0.39 0.231 0.098 0.655

Figure 3 Effect of Moisture Content and Particle Size on the Bulk Density of Coir Pith.
PHYSICAL PROPERTIES OF COIR PITH 403

particle size. Sreenarayanan and Chattopadhyay (1986) reported that the bulk density was
increasing with an increase in moisture content for rice bran. When the particle size of coir
pith was reduced to a lower level its porosity decreased and hence the bulk density of the
coir pith was increased with a decrease in the particle size. A relationship between the
bulk density of coir pith, the moisture content and particle size was developed and
furnished below. The correlation coefficient for the proposed model (R2 value = 0.9314)
indicates that the model has good fit.

(Bd / Bd max ) = 0.5138 × 1.0107M × 0.4752( P / P max) (3)

where Bd = Bulk Density


Downloaded by [University of Stellenbosch] at 03:14 04 October 2014

M = Moisture Content in % w.b.


P = Particle Size

Effect of Moisture Content and Particle Size on Porosity of Coir Pith


The porosity of coir pith of different particle sizes under different levels of
moisture content is shown graphically in Figure 4. It was seen that the porosity of the
coir pith was higher as the particle sizes increased, and decreased with an increase in
moisture content. Viswanathan et al. (1990) reported similar results for minor millet
grains.

0.9

0.85

0.8
Po ro si ty

0.75

0.7

0.65

0.6
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70
Moisture Content % w.b.
Particle Size mm

0.925 0.655 0.39 0.231 0.098

Figure 4 Effect of Moisture Content and Particle Size on the Porosity of Coir Pith.
404 I.N. MANICKAM AND P. SUBRAMANIAN

A relationship between the porosity of coir pith, the moisture content and particle
size was developed and furnished below. The correlation coefficient for the proposed
model (R2 value = 0.9214) indicates that the model has good fit.

Po = 0.0778(P / Pmax ) − 0.0029M + 0.8205 (4)

where Po = Porosity
M = Moisture Content in % w.b.
P = Particle Size

Effect of Moisture Content and Particle Size on Particle Density


Downloaded by [University of Stellenbosch] at 03:14 04 October 2014

of Coir Pith
The particle density of coir pith of different particle sizes under different levels of
moisture content is shown graphically in Figure 5. It was seen that the particle density of
the coir pith was higher as the particle sizes decreased, and it decreased with an increase in
moisture content. A similar trend was observed by Sreenarayanan and Chattopadhyay
(1986) for rice bran particles.
A relationship between the particle density of coir pith, the moisture content and
particle size was developed and furnished below. The correlation coefficient for the pro-
posed model (R2 value = 0.9) indicates that the model has good fit.

(5)
(Pd / Pd max ) = 1.0152 × 0.9987M × 0.6649( P / Pmax)

1.00
0.95
0.90
Pa rti cl e Densi ty g m/cc

0.85
0.80
0.75
0.70
0.65
0.60
0.55
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70
Moisture Content % w.b.
Particle Size mm
0.925 0.655 0.39 0.231 0.098

Figure 5 Effect of Moisture Content and Particle Size on the Particle Density of Coir Pith.
PHYSICAL PROPERTIES OF COIR PITH 405

where Pd = Particle Density


M = Moisture Content in % w.b.
P = Particle Size

Effect of Moisture Content and Particle Size on Coefficient of Friction


The coefficient of friction of coir pith against milled steel was found for different
particle sizes and moisture content and plotted as shown in Figure 6. It was found that the
coefficient of friction of coir pith particles against milled steel decreased when its mois-
ture content was increased. As the moisture content increased the viscosity of the particle
increased resulting in a reduction in the coefficient of friction irrespective of the particle
Downloaded by [University of Stellenbosch] at 03:14 04 October 2014

size. When the particle size was reduced, the frictional coefficient also reduced. This
behavior may be due to the reduction of pore space inside the particle heap as the particle
sizes were reduced.
A relationship between the static coefficient of friction of coir pith, the moisture
content and particle size was developed and furnished below. The correlation coefficient
for the proposed model (R2 value = 0.9497) indicates that the model has good fit.

Cf = 0.5231 − 0.0007 M + 0.1109 (P / Pmax ) (6)

where Cf = Coefficient of Friction


M = Moisture Content in % w.b.
P = Particle Size

0.66
0.64
Co effi cient o f Fricti o n

0.62
0.6
0.58
0.56
0.54
0.52
0.5
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70
Moisture Content % w.b.
Particle Size mm

0.925 0.655 0.39 0.231 0.098

Figure 6 Effect of Moisture Content and Particle Size on the Coefficient of Friction of Coir Pith.
406 I.N. MANICKAM AND P. SUBRAMANIAN

CONCLUSION
The experimental results show that the bulk density of coir pith increased with an
increase in moisture content and decreased with an increase in the particle size. The poros-
ity of coir pith was higher as the particle sizes increased and decreased with an increase in
moisture. The particle density of the coir pith was higher as the particle sizes decreased
and decreased with an increase in moisture content. The coefficient of friction of coir pith
particles against milled steel decreased when its moisture content was increased. When the
particle size was reduced, the frictional coefficient was also reduced.

REFERENCES
Arumugam, C., Dhamodharan, A.D. (1993). Coconut based coir industry in India. In M.K. Nair Advances
Downloaded by [University of Stellenbosch] at 03:14 04 October 2014

in Coconut Research and Development. New Delhi, India: Oxford 7 IBH Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd.
Bhowmic, B.B., Debnath, C.R. (1985). Coir fiber. Part II- Potentiality of coir fiber products. Indian
Coconut Journal 16(3): 7–10.
Devadas, C.T., Gothandapani, L., Swaminathan, K.R. (1993). Process development for making fuel
briquettes from coir pith. Traction 3(1): 21–24.
Hall, D, House, J. (1995). Biomass: a modern and environmentally acceptable fuel. Solar Energy
Materials and Solar Cells 39: 521–542.
Handerson, S.M., Perry, R.L. (1996). Agricultural process Engineering. 2nd Ed., The Ferguson
Foundation series. New York: John Wiley.
Jayadeep, V., Gothandapani, L., Sreenarayanan, V.V. (1991). Particle board from coir pith. TNAU
News letter 21(7): 2.
Kadirvelu, K., Thamaraiselvi, K., Namasivayam, C. (2001). Removal of heavy metals from indus-
trial waste waters by adsorption onto activated carbon prepared from an agricultural solid
waste. Bio-resource Technology 76:63–65.
Kamaraj, C.M. (1993). Use of coir pith as peat in commercial line and export opportunities. Work-
shop on Utilization of Coir Pith; Govt. of India, Coir board, Cochin, Kerala.
Kamaraj, C.M. (1994). Exportable coir products in Tamilnadu. The Coconut Wealth 1(6): 6–8.
Mohsenin, N. (1978). Physical properties of plant and animal materials Vol.I. Gordon and Breach
Sc. Pub. Inc.
Namasivayam, C., Kadirvelu, K. (1994). Coir pith, an agricultural waste byproduct, for the treat-
ment of dyeing waste water. Bio-resource Technology 48(1):79–81.
Namasivayam, C., Kanagarathinam, A., Ranganathan, K. (1994). Treatment of distillery waste water using
waste coir pith impregnated with waste Fe3+/Cr3+ hydroxide. Chemical Environ Res 3:43–52.
Natarajan, G. (1995). Commercial exploitation of coconut pith problem and prospects. Indian Coconut
Journal 9:11.
Sathyanarayana, K.G., Mohendar, P.N., Pillai, C.K.S., Pavithran, C. (1984). Characteristic action
and utilization of coconut tree based materials. Indian coconut Journal 14(3): 18–20.
Sayigh, A. (1999). Renewable energy – the way forward. Applied Energy 64: 15–30.
Srivastava, P.K, Tomar, S.S. (1993). Advances in Biomass Utilization. Agricultural Engineering
Today 17: 1–19
Sreenarayanan, V.V., Chattopadhyay, P.K. (1986). Die electric properties of rice bran. Journal of
food process engineering 8(4): 231–242.
Sreenarayanan, V.V., Viswanathan, R., Subramanian, V. (1988). Physical and thermal properties of
soyabean. Journal of Agricultural Engineering 25(4): 76–82.
Thampan, P.K. (1991). Hand book on coconut. New Delhi, India: Oxford and IBH publishing Co., Pvt. Ltd.
Viswanathan, R.N., Varatharajan, Gothandapani, L., Sreenarayanan, V.V. (1990). Effect of moisture
content on angle of repose and bulk density of selected food grains. Journal of Food Science
Technology 27(3): 133–135.