As it is occurring in many other industries, the soundproofing global ecosystem is witnessing a shift towards biodegradable materials. Manufacturers are expected to integrate green and sustainable materials with traditional ones while designing their industrial noise control units. It is in fact necessary to bring into line with the ongoing sustainability trends and those requirements set out according to the needs of the present time.
Yet, for a long time now researchers had discovered that natural materials can be effectively used in the construction of sound absorbing architectures with a view to erase noise pollution inside facilities.
However, apart from being required to protect the environmental quality overall, it seems that natural materials can be as effective as conventional solutions.
Preferred Materials: current scenario
As stated by a recent FMI’s study on the state of health of the soundproofing global market polymers and composites still remain the highly preferred materials for the manufacturing of sound proofers. Polymers and composite materials are acknowledged to have higher soundproofing properties as compared to other materials such as glass, metal, and fabric.
Anyhow, the recent developments in composite materials have provided them with the assets of biodegradability and recyclability, which has automatically led to higher sales too. The study estimates that in 2018 alone over 4 out of 10 industrial noise control units made of polymer amd composites have been sold.
Green and Eco-friendly industrial materials
The acoustical natural solutions are still turning more and more into a valid alternative to traditional synthetic applications, as there is much higher effort in developing sustainable absorbers, either from biomass or recycled materials.
In 2021, AcouTech Lab in Tallinn University of Technology delineated a underlying premise: in order to express the noise attenuation potential and achieve the best results in terms of performance, the absorbers’ design should be based on materials with open pores structure, the pores should have small size, and the core material should have high elasticity, while the thickness of the material should be large enough to offer a reasonable attenuation at lower frequencies.
As for conventional materials, absorbers’ performance largely depends on their fibers and structure of pores as well. Cotton fibers have as many noise absorption properties as rock wool and fiberglass do, which are usually employed to realize conventional absorbers. Cotton’s porosity allows it to receive and then contain the sound energy with ease, and plus makes the material compactable, so that designers can form it into thick sheets that ensnare and disperse sound.
Against the current backdrop, soundproofing companies should employ cotton-based materials while developing their products, especially with an eye to reduce echoes and reverberations.
There is a concrete opportunity to launch green product lines including sound proofers such as wall and acoustic panels, baffles and HVAC acoustic liners mostly made from recycled cotton or recycled synthetic fibers.