News

Biowastes converted into a sustainable material for sound absorption

Researchers at Aalto University are developing a way to convert biowaste into a new, sustainable sound-absorbing material. One of the intended outcomes for the research project is to create alternatives to mineral wool construction materials that are commonly used for sound absorption and thermal insulation.
Photo: Jaana Vapaavuori / MMD group.
Photo: Jaana Vapaavuori / Multifunctional Materials Design research group.

Researchers at Aalto University are developing a way to convert biowaste into a new, sustainable sound-absorbing material. One of the intended outcomes for the research project is to create alternatives to mineral wool construction materials that are commonly used for sound absorption and thermal insulation.

The new material could potentially replace glass wool and rock wool in the ventilation air ducts of apartment buildings. The fabrication process of glass wool is not ecofriendly, as it requires a lot of energy to produce. The new material created by the Aalto researchers converts waste into a product that is not only sustainable, but also more pleasant to work with than coarse mineral wools.

An interdisciplinary undertaking

The research project is a collaboration between two groups from two very different disciplines. The group led by professor Jaana Vapaavuori focuses on the functionalities of the material, while the group led by professor Tapio Lokki deals with its acoustic properties.

What’s convenient about the new material, according to professor Vapaavuori, is that nearly any kind of random biowaste can be used to create it. Since acoustic absorbents are a bulk product, the requirements for the final material are not strict.

“In our latest article, we focused on three different types of waste categories – agricultural waste, industrial food processing biowaste, and algae collected from nature. It has already been proven that these materials perform as well in sound absorption as commercial standards like glass wool or rock wool”, says professor Vapaavuori.

Towards industrial production

The research teams are currently working on improving the sound-absorbing properties of the new material. So far, they have worked on small samples of wastes, but the goal is to upscale the work to large amounts of actual industrial waste.

“We have already learned that biowaste is a suitable raw material to manufacture sound absorption materials. With the new project with CHEM researchers, we expect to have better control of multiscale porosity and microstructures of materials, keeping in mind the scalability to industrial processes. To make an impact on the construction industry, we need products that can be produced millions of square meters in a week”, says professor Tapio Lokki.

The research project has received a two-year funding from FinnCERES. The company Lumir Oy, which creates sustainable acoustic solutions based on Finnish biofibers, has been participating in the project.

  • The article Waste Biomass Valorisation for the Development of Sustainable Cellulosic Aerogels and their Sound Absorption Properties was published online in August 2022 in the Advanced Sustainable Systems journal. You can find the article here.
  • In case you would like to read more about similar research, here is another thematically linked publication featuring MMD group member Yazan Al Haj and professor Vapaavuori: Biowaste-derived electrode and electrolyte materials for flexible supercapacitors.
MMD webpage main image. GIF image by Aalto University, Giulnara Launonen

Multifunctional Materials Design

Group led by Professor Jaana Vapaavuori

Department of Chemistry and Materials Science
virtual acoustics research group doing measurements in a concert hall

Virtual Acoustics

Professor Tapio Lokki

Department of Signal Processing and Acoustics
  • Published:
  • Updated:
Share
URL copied!

Read more news

Unite! White paper - a new university open science and innovation governance model and policy for a sustainable world
Cooperation, University Published:

Unite!’s pathway for the management of open science and innovation in the European Universities Alliances

Unite! presents a new university open science and innovation governance model and five policy recommendations.
The magnetic properties of a material can affect how it interacts with light.
Press releases, Research & Art Published:

A new optical metamaterial makes true one-way glass possible

Researchers have discovered how to make a new optical metamaterial that would underpin a variety of new technologies.
Mikko Alava ja kolme muuta tutkimusryhmän jäsentä kuvattuna teknisen laitteen äärellä.
Research & Art Published:

Significant grants for science from the Finnish Cultural Foundation

A total of thirty individuals and research groups from Aalto University received grants from the Finnish Cultural Foundation for science and art. Professors Harri Lipsanen and Zhipei Sun and their team, were awarded a large grant to develop electronic components mimicking the structure and function of the human brain. Among the grantees is also Professor Mikko Alava, whose team is developing water-resistant foams as substitutes for plastic using AI-based methods.
Photo
Research & Art Published:

Overview of Aalto's open access publications 2023

90 % of Aalto's scientific journal articles published in 2023 are available open access.