A study has been made of wood extracted from the oil palm (Elaeis guineensis), coconut palm (Cocos nucifera), and fan palm (Borassus flabe) which are common species of tropical palms. The wood from the palms is a natural composite material and measurements show that between 1/3 and 1/2 of the volume consists of fibre. However, the properties of both fibre and matrix vary with the species of palm. Mechanical testing of the wood as used in local constructions has shown that palm timber can indeed withstand tensile and compressive loads parallel to the grain better than the common nonfibrous tropical woods. The elastic moduli of palm timbers in tension parallel to the grain and in static bending are higher than those of obeche and mahogany and vary approximately linearly with the density of the material. The elastic modulus in compression parallel to the grain is related to the volume fraction of fibre, suggesting a shear-mode type of deformation. The intrinsic high hardness and strength of palm timber recommends it as a structural material, suitable for trusses. The fibrous structure also leads to an attractive surface appearance on polishing and the aesthetic consideration suggests that the material could also be utilized for such items as furniture and tiles.

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