News

Acoustic solutions made from natural fibres can reduce buildings’ carbon footprints

Aalto University researchers discovered that wood-based pulp fibres are also well-suited for making acoustic materials.
Mare Tranquillitatis IC-98, 2020  Art work is part of Aalto University Art collection Images: Aalto University/Mikko Raskinen
One example of the effects of acoustics based on cellulose fibres is the Mare Tranquillitatis (2020) artwork created by the artist group IC-98 on the Aalto University campus. Image: Mikko Raskinen/Aalto University

Good acoustics in the workspace improve work efficiency and productivity, which is one of the reasons why acoustic materials matter. The acoustic insulation market is already expected to hit 15 billion USD by 2022 as construction firms and industry pay more attention to sound environments. Researchers at Aalto University, in collaboration with Finnish acoustics company Lumir, have now studied how these common elements around us could become more eco-friendly, with the help of cellulose fibres.

‘Models for acoustic absorption are based on tests done with synthetic fibres, and natural fibres don’t adhere to these models. With natural fibres like cellulose, we can use thinner structures to achieve the same sound absorption as synthetic fibres,’ says Jose Cucharero, a doctoral student at Aalto University.

Cucharero’s research explores the effect of natural fibres’ properties on sound absorption and how these fibres can be used in room acoustics. Synthetic fibres, such as fibreglass and rockwool, are uniform in quality. Cellulose fibres have a complex structure with natural irregularities, which can be an asset for absorbing sound indoors. The origin of fibres also seems to matter: his research has found that hardwood fibres absorb sound better than softwood fibres. Based on the research, this can be attributed to the smaller dimensions of the hardwood fibres.

 

Jose Cucharero ja luonnonkuituiset akustiikkamateriaalit.
Jose Cucharero. Image: Aalto University

Cellulose fibres store carbon dioxide for decades

In addition to their excellent acoustic properties, cellulose fibres also have positive environmental impacts compared to traditional acoustic materials. The production of cellulose fibres is considerably more energy-efficient, and the fibres also absorb significant amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Using the fibre in construction materials is an effective way to store carbon: buildings last for decades, unlike single-use packaging and paper where cellulose is typically used.

‘Acoustics solutions based on cellulose fibres can be applied to a wide range of facilities. For example, acoustic sprays -- which can be used on any surface to create a porous, sound-absorbing layer -- can significantly improve the comfort of buildings under renovation without changing their visual appearance,’ Cucharero says.

Research results are already used in product development

Alongside his doctoral dissertation, Jose Cucharero works at Lumir Oy, which produces acoustic solutions in line with the principles of the circular economy. The results of the dissertation are used in the development of new cellulose-based acoustics solutions, and the study has been rapidly applied in product development.

The commercial perspective is also complemented by tests that ensure the products’ scalable manufacturing and fire resistance. Based on the results, an industrially scalable process has been developed for the production of acoustic panels based on cellulose fibres.

‘Governments around the world have set out to become carbon neutral. We can’t achieve this by simply reducing emissions; we need to also absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in products’, says Lumir’s R&D Director Tuomas Hänninen, Doctor of Technology and Jose Cucharero’s thesis advisor.

Links to publications:

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10570-021-03774-1

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fbuil.2021.665332

Further information:

Doctoral candidate Jose Cucharero
tel. +358 (0)44 238 4576
[email protected]
Lumir Oy

Professor Tapio Lokki
tel. +358 (0)40 578 2486
[email protected]
Aalto University School of Electrical Engineering
Department of Signal Processing and Acoustics

  • Published:
  • Updated:
Share
URL copied!

Read more news

Logo
Cooperation, Press releases, University Published:

The higher education community of the Helsinki metropolitan area gets together: EveryMoveCounts-campaign starts!

The goal of the EveryMoveCounts-campaign is to increase the students’ awareness of the benefits of daily movement for their well-being.
Päivi Törmä ja Sebastiaan van Dijken
Press releases, Research & Art Published:

Guiding spin waves with light could lead to faster and much more energy efficient computing

Major new research project at Aalto University aims to develop new type of computing device that eliminates massive amounts of waste heat produced by current devices
Physicists at Aalto University and VTT have developed a new detector for measuring energy quanta at unprecedented resolution. Photo: Aalto University
Press releases Published:

Researchers will use the world’s most accurate radiation detector in quantum computers

Professor Mikko Möttönen’s team and their partners have acquired funding to refine the bolometer technology for use not only in quantum computers but also in ultralow-temperature (ULT) freezers and terahertz cameras. The funding is from the Future Makers Funding Program by Technology Industries Finland Centennial Foundation and by Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation. This would be the first time ever that this bolometer is utilized for practical applications.
Schematic view of the entangled photon generator. Picture: Ethan D. Minot.
Press releases Published:

Groundbreaking light sources can increase effectiveness and security of transferring quantum information

Researchers at Aalto University plan to build a revolutionary LED light source to generate entangled photon pairs. The research group led by Professor Pertti Hakonen has received three-year funding from the Future Makers Funding Program of Technologies Finland Centennial Foundation and Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation.