Researchers at Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) have successfully produced a multi-layer bulletproof armour from coconut tree frond material or ‘cocos nucifera sheath’ (CNS). The researchers claim that this material is capable of replacing Kevlar on bulletproof vests, without compromising its ballistic resistance.
UPM research group head Dr. Mohammad Jawaid said the innovation, known as Techno Economic Hard Body Armor, has been tested at the Science & Technology Research Institute For Defence (STRIDE) facility in Selangor. The CNS-based armour was fitted into a bulletproof vest which met with the Level III performance standard set by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ).
The ballistic test was performed using a 7.62mm caliber bullet from a distance of 15 meters, with a shooting velocity of 838 ± 15m/s. Results of the testing revealed that the depth of the ballistic trauma measurement of the CNS-based armour is 26.51mm, which is lower than the 44m blunt trauma limit set by NIJ standards.
Mohammad Jawaid added that production of the armour is able to save 44-percent of fabrication costs compared to those created with Kevlar material. He noted that regular armour made from aramid fibres or steel will require higher thickness levels, which can be heavy and obstruct the user’s mobility. The Techno Economic Hard Body Armor, on the other hand, is thinner and weighs about 5kg.
Similarly, researchers from Universiti Teknikal Melaka (UTeM) had also invented a lightweight and durable bulletproof vest back in 2007. What sets UTeM’s armour apart from the one created by UPM is that the former was produced from a combination of coconut husk and fibreglass material.