The Bogor Agricultural University (IPB) researcher managed to produce helmets from the oil palm empty fruit bunches. This innovation is the first in Indonesia. The empty bunches were taken from Cikasungka, Bogor regency in West Java.
“This is the first in Indonesia, as until now helmet has no reinforcing element and also has only polymer with fiber,” Dr. Siti Nikmatin, the researcher The Bogor Agricultural University said early in December 2016.
Siti Nikmatin makes the helmet from the oil palm empty fruit bunches with many advantages compared to other helmets on sale in the market. The fiber of the empty fruit bunches can function to reduce impacts of collision during accidents. Due to its condition, the impacts will not directly hit the heads due to the existence of the fiber.
“The collision impact will be less, so that it won’t affect the head or brains inside. So, heads and brains are well protected with the helmet. The helmet is also made with the utilization of ABS reinforcement with the raw materials of empty palm fruit bunches, which have high capability to absorb impacts,” she said.
Other advantages of the helmet include impact-resistance, shatter-proof, environmentally friendly, and lighter. The helmet is lighter because its bio-composite density less than 1 g/cm3, and more environmentally friendly because it is green helmet made of natural elements, namely C, H, O, Na, Mg, Al, Si, Ca.
Besides using the palm fruit wastes, the helmet also uses the Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) plastic, a plastic waste from the wastes of car and motorcycle frames, which are then mixed with the wastes of the palm fruit bunches in the form of fiber. Then, the fiber is shaped with variety of measures (long, short, micro and macro).
“The fiber becomes a raw material to make helmets. The choice of fiber size is aimed to determine its impact to the quality of helmet and the cost of production,” she said.
In this case, Siti saw a market opportunity to utilize the abundance of empty palm fruit bunches. For the purpose, an innovative solution is needed to change the palm fruit wastes into products of high value, competitive, and environmentally friendly.
“Its raw material is more economic and environmentally friendly. With that we can also reduce the plastic wastes from car and motorcycles or ABS polymer recycles,” said the Lecturer of Physics of the IPB’s faculty of mathematics and science. (*)