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ACOUSTICAL AND MECHANICAL PROPERTIES OF

NATURAL POLYMER COMPOSITES: REVIEW


M.Dhineshkumar1, R.Immanual1, S.Kameshwaran2, G.Aravinthan2, P.Dinesh2
Assistant Professor1, Department of mechanical engineering, Sri Ramakrishna Institute of
Technology, Coimbatore-10
UG Scholar2, Department of mechanical engineering, Sri Ramakrishna Institute of Technology,
Coimbatore-10
Abstract
Recent environmental researchers focused on noise reduction within the use of natural agri waste
materials. This project work is mainly identified the acoustical and mechanical properties of
natural polymer composites. Natural agri waste materials embodied biodegradable and eco-
friendly. In this review, compare the synthetic and natural agri waste materials in all aspects and
many of the natural composites specifically provides better impacts to the environment. Acoustics
sound absorption test comparison kindles the natural sound absorption boards making process
with polymers. Most of the porous sound absorbing materials readily available are fibrous and
open porous natural particle boards is the continuous sound absorption medium. In this review
paper conclude the essential report of natural agri waste materials act as an environmental noise
reducer.

Keywords: Acoustical Properties, Mechanical Properties, Natural Materials, Synthetic


Materials
Introduction
In recent years, researchers like started working on the fabrication of fiber composites with the
combination of plastic and rubber based granular materials. The incorporation of granular
materials such as rubber crumb increases the bulk density and flow resistivity of the composite
material, which has a significant effect in enhancing low frequency acoustic absorption. In
addition, chemical concentration, fiber-grain composition ratio, fiber size, and grain size may also
be vital factors for improving low frequency sound absorption. The combination of natural or
conventional fiber and rubber granular materials exhibits an encouraging sound absorption
performance at low frequency region when compared with either pure natural fiber or granular
composites. Due to their biodegradable, lightweight, cheaper, nontoxic, and nonabrasive qualities,
natural fibers are receiving much attention in composites as a substitute for synthetic fibers for
acoustic absorption purposes. 2The natural fibers with desirable physical and mechanical
properties are exhibited as high performance composites with environmental and economic
advantages. Many potential candidates are available in the form of natural fibers for use as
sustainable acoustic absorbers. The fibers of coir, corn, paddy, sisal, and banana are some
examples. Fiberglass, mineral wool, and glass wool are examples of synthetic fibers. The acoustic
performance of synthetic sound absorptive materials is higher than that of natural sound absorptive
materials because of their thinner diameter and antifungus quality, but they have a higher
environmental impact than the natural fibres. 3 Natural fibre composites have better formability,
abundant, renewable, cost effective, possess tool wearing rates, thermal insulation properties,
acoustic properties, sufficient energy requirements and safer towards health . Many innumerable
demerits such as hydrophilic in nature, poor fibre/matrix interfacial adhesion and poor thermal
stability of natural fibres can be overcome by chemical treatment or compatibilizer which amended
the adhesion between the fibre and matrix. Composite of polymers and kenaf fibre possess the
variances and incomparability in terms of their polarity structures. Based on the origin natural
fibres are categorized as animal based and plant based. Animal-based fibres are wool, silk, etc.
and natural fibres based on plant includes sisal, coir, ramie, jute, bamboo, pineapple and many
more. Lignocellulose fibres possess many compensations of being financially reasonable to
manufacture such as lightweight, eco-friendly, harmless to health, high stiffness and specific
strength which provides a probable substitute to the synthetic or artificial fiber. There in forcing
capability of the fibres mainly influenced by various aspects such as polarity of the fibre,
mechanical strength of the fibres, surface appearances, and existence of reactive centres. Moreover
many of the natural fibres properties are governed by several factors such as climate, harvest,
maturity, variety, decortications, retting degree, is integration (steam explosion treatment,
mechanical), fibre modification, technical and also textile processes (spinning and carding). In
spite of these promising features shown by natural fibres certain major drawbacks are also
underlined like water absorption, strength degradation, lack in thermal stability lowered impact
properties but it has been found that these can be improved and overcome by hybridization with
either natural or synthetic fibre. Bast fibres derived from natural fibres such as hemp, flax, kenaf
and jute have high specific strength, low density and are extremely concerned in several industrial
applications Kenaf fibres are gratifying increasingly widespread throughout the world and even in
Malaysia as the significant natural materials source contributing towards the development of eco-
friendly assets for the automotive, sports industries, food packaging and furniture , textiles, paper
pulp, and fibreboards based industries Inferior thermal resistance are displayed by kenaf as
compared to artificial or synthetic fibres such as (aramid, glass fibres) like all other natural fibres
.

Materials and Methodology


1. Porous fibrous materials
Most of the porous sound absorbing materials readily available are fibrous. Fibrous
materials are composed of a set of continuous filaments that trap air between them. They are
produced in rolls or in slabs with different thermal, acoustical, and mechanical properties. Fibers
can be classified as natural or synthetic (artificial). Natural fibers can be vegetable (cotton, kenaf
, hemp, flax, wood, etc.) in fig 1 shows a scanning-electron-microscopes of these samples, animal
(wool, fur felt) or mineral (asbestos). Synthetic fibers can be cellulose (bamboo fiber, for
example), mineral (fiberglass, mineral wool, glass wool, graphite, ceramic, etc.), or polymer
(polyester, polypropylene, Kevlar, etc.)
Figure 1. Scanning electron microscope images of samples of hemp, kenaf, cotton and polyester fibers.

2. HEMP FIBER
Hemp fibers are used to produce the sound absorbing materials, some studies have reported
values of the sound absorption coefficient of hemp felt of different thicknesses. Figure 2 shows
the sound absorption coefficient measured in a reverberation chamber of a 40-mm-thick
thermal insulation material made of 80-85% of hemp fibers.

Fig.2 Measured sound absorption coefficient of a material made of hemp fibers


3. KENAF
Kenaf (hibiscus cannabinus) is a different plant that is cultivated in the United States and is
related to cotton. Its fibers have been used to strengthen concrete and other composite
materials for construction applications and for materials used in the automotive industry.
Materials for thermal isolation and sound absorption made of a mixture of natural kenaf fibers,
polyester fibers for strengthening, and a natural fireproof product, are currently available
commercially. Evidently sound absorbing materials made of natural fibers such as hemp and
kenaf can be recycled easily, and their production involves a low carbon footprint and no CFC
emissions, so that they can be classified as ecologically green building materials. Therefore,
they provide an alternative to chemical building materials, polymers, and other artificial
nonsustainable materials.

4. Tea-Leaf-Fibre (TLF)
As a natural and environmentally friendly material, tea-leaf-fibre (TLF) has been tested
for its sound absorption properties. Tea-leaf-fibre is a waste product of tea-leave
processing, extracted after drying and chopping of the leaves. Besides being a hygienic
material, tea-leaf-fibre is a product of renewable bio-resources that makes it biodegradable.

5. GRANULAR ABSORBING MATERIALS


Some granular absorbing materials are granular clays, sands, gravel, limestone chips,
which are perfect for controlling outdoor sound propagation. Fibro granular composites
are the incorporation of granulates made of natural, rubber, or plastic materials into a
fibrous matrix. The performance of the fibro granular composite is the summation of the
individual components in which there is a more favorable balance between intrinsic
advantages and disadvantages. In a fibrogranular composite, the advantage of one
component supplements the lacking of the other to get a resultant balanced performance.
From the view of environmental protection, natural bamboo fibres were used for sound
absorbing purposes. Impedance tube measurement of the bamboo fibre samples, reveal
similar properties to that of glass wool. Bamboo material formed into a fibreboard, yields
a superior sound absorption property when compared to plywood material of similar
density [8]. Composite boards of random cut rice straws and wood particles, were found
to demonstrate higher sound absorption coefficient than particleboard, fibreboard and
plywood for the frequency range of 500 8000 Hz [9]. Coconut coir fibre compressed into
bundles and mattress sheet was found to demonstrate good sound absorption coefficient.
When compared to a single layer, multi-layer coconut coir fibres with airspace layers
increase the absorption coefficient of the material at lower frequencies.
6. Shredded sunflower stalks
The sunflower (reference LG5474) stalks used in this study were harvested in 2009
(Perrier, France). Grinding of sunflower stalks was performed using a cutting mill SM 300
(Retsch) with a sieve of 20 mm mesh. The speed cut applied was 1000 rpm. The particles
obtained were sieved at room temperature (20C) using Controlab sievetronic to obtain
different particles sizes between 1 and6.3 mm. Particles were stored at room temperature.
7. Jute Fibers
Jute is a long, soft, shiny vegetable fiber that can be spun into coarse, strong threads. It is
produced primarily from plants in the genus Corchorus, which was once classified with
the family Tiliaceae, and more recently with Malvaceae. Jute is one of the most affordable
natural fibers and it is second only to cotton in amount produced and variety of uses of
vegetable fibers. Jute fibers are composed primarily of the plant materials cellulose and
lignin. It falls into the bast fiber category (fiber collected from bast, the phloem of the
plant, sometimes called the "skin") along with kenaf, industrial hemp, flax (linen), ramie,
etc. The industrial term for jute fiber is raw jute. The fibers are off-white to brown, and 1
4 metres (313 feet) long. Jute fiber is 100% bio-degradable and recyclable and thus
environmentally friendly. Jute has low pesticide and fertilizer needs. Jute also include
good insulating and antistatic properties, as well as having low thermal conductivity .

Fig.3 Jute plants (Corchorus olitorius) Fig.4 Jute fibers Dehydration

METHODOLOGY
1. Impedance Tube Method
The material sizes were based on a two microphone Transfer function method according
to ISO 10534-2 and ASTM E1050-98 international standards, which is for horizontally
mounted orientation-sensitive materials. The testing apparatus was part of a complete
acoustic material testing system, featuring Bruel&Kj_r PULSETM interface, as it is seen
in Fig.5A small-tube setup was used to measure different acoustical parameters for the
frequency range of 5006300 Hz. Small impedance tube kit from Bruel&Kjaer Type 4206
was consisted of a 29 mm diameter tube (small tube), sample holder and an extension tube
at the same diameter. A frequency-weighting unit is also provided within the tube, in which
different types of weighting are available; high pass, for high frequency measurements in
the small tube, linear for measurements in the large tube, and low-pass for additional
measurement accuracy below 100 Hz. At one end of the tube, a loudspeaker is situated to
act as a sound source. At the other end of the tube, the test material is placed to measure
sound absorption properties, as it is seen in Fig. 6. For proper fitting of samples into the
measurement tube, an aluminium rod was machined to a length of 40 mm and a diameter
of 29 mm and it was utilized to push the material into a pre-adjusted depth. For each
thickness of the material, three altered sample measurements were made and the average
of the measured data was presented here.

Fig. 5. Impedance tube kit (courtesy of Bru el & Kjaer).


Fig. 6. Impedance tube setup for two-microphone transfer function method (courtesy of
Bru el & Kjaer).

2. Ultrasonic sound penetration velocity coefficient Method


The ultrasonic sound penetration velocity coefficient test was conducted in accordance with
ASTM C 597 [50]. There is no direct relationship between Ultrasonic sound penetration velocity
coefficient and the material strength [51]. The wave velocity of the material decreases with an
increase in the amount of cavities. The ultrasonic sound velocity of the insulation material made
with sunflower stalk fibres, the spongy part of sunflower stalks, cotton waste, textile fibre waste,
stubble and epoxy has been reported as 0.9 km/s [2]. This value is relatively low compared to the
other building materials. For example, it is 1.61 km/s for a typical brick. There is a specific
relationship between the wave speed and the density of the material. When the amount of cavities
inside the material increases, the ultrasonic sound penetration velocity coefficient decreases. The
time it took for a sound wave to travel from one surface of the material to the other was measured
and the wave velocity was calculated as follows:
V = (S / t) 106
V= wave velocity (km/h),
S= surface area of the material used (cm2),
t= the distance between the surfaces
The time it took for a sound wave to travel from one surface of the material to the other (seconds).
Sound insulation is a factor that needs to be considered when any building is
Constructed. Materials having high sound insulating properties should be chosen when
constructing structures such as walls, coverings, ceilings and windows. Thus sounds coming from
upstairs, downstairs and neighbouring walls are obstructed and minimised.
Noise is an important problem which is considered as an environmental pollution and may lead to
health problems, the cause of which cannot be easily diagnosed.
Therefore, suitable sound insulation is essential for clean environment and healthy living. Thus,
ultrasonic sound and the audio switching speed of the transition have been previously reported for
different materials [51].
3. Mechanical characterization Method
Mechanical characterization was performed using a tensile testing machine (Instron 5543)
equipped with a load cell of 5 kN.The cross-head speed was equal to 5 mm min1and the specimen
clamping length was 140 mm. Compressive tests were carried out with a Zwick-Roell testing
machine equipped with a 20 kN load cell. The tests were displacement-controlled with a cross-
head speed equal to 1.2 mm min1. The tested specimens were placed between two steel plates to
have similar displacement and pressure and the load was applied on the superior surface. The
results of the mechanical tests were analysed through stress-strain curves. These curves present
typically two areas. One corresponds to the deformation (elongation), which is proportional to the
stress and corresponds to an elastic reversible strain. The other one, cor-responding to a plastic
area, represents the part when the strain is non-linear and irreversible. The maximum stress (max)
(MPa) was measured in both tensile and compressive modes. The strain at break b(%)
(Percentage of elongation at break) was evaluated only in the tensile mode.
4. Acoustical characterization Method
The measurements were carried out in an impedance tube and based on two-microphone transfer-
function method. A sound wave is generated at one end of the tube by a loudspeaker. The wave
can be considered as a plane wave if its frequency is below a cut off determined by the tube
diameter. After the reflection at the surface of the material at the other end of the tube, the sound
field created in the tube is a standing sound field and depends on the reflection coefficient at the
surface of the material. The two microphones measure the sound field at two different positions.
The loudspeaker can be fed with a white noise signal and the incident and reflected sound pressure
recorded by the microphones are then processed to deduce the absorption coefficient of the sample
in a frequency band. For a 29 mm diameter tube, the useful frequency band is between500 Hz and
6400 Hz. Composite samples were placed at the end of the impedance tube and backed by a rigid
surface.
5. Experimental design and statistical analysis
Preliminary testing of the design of composite chi-tosan/shredded sunflower stalks showed the
feasibility of this mixture. To find the best values of the three process parameters affecting the
thermal and mechanical properties, namely, the particle size, the ratio chitosan/shredded sunflower
stalks and compaction stress, and to minimize the number of tests, a compos-ite central design
was chosen. This plan used consists of 24 trials (N) corresponding to N = 2n+ 2. N = 14 points
plus 10 repetitions of the central point. Each factor is studied at five levels as shown in Table 1.
The associated model is a quadratic polynomial with the linear and quadratic effects and all the
interaction effects between the different operating variables effects. Three variables were
modelled with this experimental design: thermal conductivity (k)(W m1K1), Youngs modulus
E_(MPa) and the maximum stress_max(MPa). The results were analysed by the statistical
software. The optimal thermal insulation and mechanical strength were achieved by using a
quadratic model with interactions.
6. Acoustical normal specific absorption coefficient
Normal specific sound absorption coefficient of materials has been determined by using
impedance tube, two microphones, an OROS FFT analyser and the IIT Kharagpur developed
MATPRO software. Test has been done as per ASTM standard [13]. Noise reduction
Coefficient (NRC), a simple quantification of absorption of sound by material, was calculated by
using weighted octave band sound levels.

6.1 Acoustical transmission loss


Fabrication of NR latex jute composite. To fabricate 5 mm thick, size 600 _ 600 NR latex jute
composite, 10 pieces of 400 gsm jute felt were treated with 1% NR latex by weight for 1 h. Excess
rubber latex was drained off and treated jute felt was dried at atmospheric temperature (_30 _C)
for 1 h. The final NR latex jute composite was prepared by pressing 10 pieces of treated jute in a
hydraulic press at 140 _C with pressure of 8 ton for 15 min Similarly 2.5%, 5%, 10%, 15% NR
latex jute composites were prepared keeping all other parameters the same.

Results and discussion


1. Impedance tube measurement of TLF without backing
The average weight measurements for TLF samples of different thicknesses were 0.67, 1.34 and
2.18 g, corresponding to 25.358, 25.35 and 27.5 kg/m3 specific weight for thickness values of 10,
20 and 30 mm, respectively. TLF sample of 10 mm thickness exhibits a maximum sound
absorption coefficient of 0.26 in the frequency range 40006300 Hz (Fig. 7). Increasing the
thickness of the sample, results in almost a linear increase in sound absorption coefficient,
reaching to a peak value of 0.60 at 6300 Hz.TLF sample of 30 mm thickness exhibits a gradually
increasing sound absorption coefficient, reaching to a level of 0.7 at 5600 Hz and continuing
steadily until 6300 Hz incoming sound waves.

2. Impedance tube measurement of TLF material with Backing


The sound absorption properties of TLF with backing of a single layer of woven cloth were
determined for 10, 20 and 30 mm layers of the sample and for the frequency range of 5006300
Hz (Fig. 8). The results for the 10 mm thick sample yields a gradual increase in sound absorption
coefficient up to a maximum level of 0.80 at 4500 Hz and a smoothly steady of this level
afterwards. There is a similar trend for the sample with 20 mm thickness. However, the material
exhibits a maximum sound absorption coefficient of 0.85 at a lower frequency of 2800 Hz when
compared to that of the sample with 10 mm thickness. Moreover there is a gradual decrease in
sound absorption coefficient down to a level of 0.6 for frequencies higher than 2800 Hz. Increasing
the thickness of the sample layer to 30 mm yields, a sound absorption coefficient reaching a
maximum value of 0.90 at 2200 Hz and a gradual decrease down to a level of 0.5 at 4900 Hz.
Different phenomena was observed for the sample with 30 mm thickness, when compared to that
of 20 mm thickness, for which the sound absorption coefficient increases back to a maximum level
of 0.8 at 6300 Hz.

Fig. 7. Sound absorption of TLF material. Fig.8 TLF with WCC backing.

3. Acoustical measurement
3.1Acoustical normal specific absorption coefficient
Untreated TD5 and TD4: From the measurements, the calculated NRC values for two types of
cylindrical shaped (diameter 35 mm) untreated jute fibres (TD4 and TD5) of thickness 25.4 mm
and 50.8 mm are given in Table 2 and then sound absorption coefficient shown in Fig. 9.
According to results TD5 gives better acoustical absorption property as compared to TD4 which
is due to more number of air channels between smooth and thinner strands of TD5 and hence it
improvement in sound trapping. Further acoustical measurement had been done for TD5.
Untreated TD5 and TD4 with their NRC value.
Grade name Thickness NRC
(mm)
TD4 25.4 0.53

TD5 25.4 0.57

TD4 50.8 0.54

TD5 50.8 0.54

4. Ultrasonic sound penetration velocity coefficient


The results presented in Fig. 11 show that the lowest ultrasonic sound penetration velocity was
obtained for sample S5 and the highest value for sample S10. The explanation for these
observations is similar to that expressed for the thermal conductivity results. For the samples
prepared with 30g of epoxy and 60g of corn stalks, as the compaction pressure applied to the
composite sample was increased the ultrasonic sound transmission velocity decreased (S1-S5). On
the other hand, the samples prepared using 45g of epoxy in the composite showed the opposite
trend, i.e. an increase in the compaction pressure resulted in an increase in the ultrasonic sound
permeability (S6-S10). This is related to the void contents of the two sets of composites, i.e. as the
void content in the composite decreases it is accompanied by an increase in the ultrasonic sound
permeability of the sample. The ultrasonic sound permeability values obtained in this study are
considerably lower than those reported by other researchers. Demirboga et al. [51] have reported
a decrease in the P-wave velocity of the material with an increase in the amount of voids. The
ultrasonic sound velocity of the insulation material made with sunflower stalk fibres, the spongy
part of sunflower stalks, cotton waste, textile fibre waste, stubble and epoxy was 0.9 km/s. This
value is considerably lower than those for some of the other building materials such as bricks for
which the value is 1.61 km/s. The results of the present study show that the ultrasonic sound
permeability of the composite samples containing higher amounts of gypsum were significantly
lower than those of the corresponding materials made with epoxy resin.

5. Acoustical properties of the composite chitosan/sunflower stalks particles


Nowadays, building materials are expected to perform several functions and to be sustainable.
For example, building materials are supposed to satisfy structural, thermal and acoustical demands
(Gl et al., 2011). Hence, acoustical characterization was performed on the composites presenting
the best mechanical and thermal compromise. Samples made from 5 mm sunflower stalks
particles, with a 6.6% ratio chitosan/sunflower (w/w) and compacted with a pressure of 32 kPa
during the manufacturing, were analysed with the 29 mm diameter impedance tube. Fig. 3
represents the sound absorption coefficient of the composite, with thickness of 13 mm, in the
frequency ranging from 0 to 4000 Hz. Note that this range of frequencies is used in the construction
field to evaluate the acoustic insulating properties of materials. When toward 1, all the energy of
the incident wave is absorbed and when = 0, the sound is not dampened at all (El Hajj et al.,
2011). The absorption coefficient of the bio-based composite tested is lower than 0.5 ( 0.2 at
frequency 25004000 Hz). Knowing that a composite sugarcane waste fibers/polyester endowed
a coefficient of absorption 0.5 (Putraet al., 2013) above 3500 Hz and that agro-sourced
materials from auto link flax-tows had a 0.8 at 3000 Hz (El Hajj et al., 2011), the acoustical
performance of the bio-based composite developed here can be considered as low. If the composite
is too tight, the acoustic wave cannot penetrate in it as described for cellular concrete (Cerezo,
2005). The acoustic absorption in a porous material strongly depends upon several parameters
among which the flow resistivity. For high values of flow resistivity, the sound attenuation can be
low and explain the results of Fig. 3. Higher values of absorption can be expected for more porous
materials (Gl et al., 2011).

Fig.10. Sound absorption (B) of composite (A) made from sunflower stalks aggregates and chitosan with thickness
of 13 m

Conclusions
In this review, Natural composite Materials have been introduced as an eco-friendly,
biodegradable and economical alternative for noise controlling materials. Also, Natural fibers
shows more significant acoustical attenuation properties and mechanical properties than synthetic
fibers. Due to green technology for noise controlling, Natural composite materials can be explored
for application in noisy house hold appliances like vacuum cleaner, dish washer, cloth dryer; in
automobile like car door panel, engine partition, roofing and flooring; in architectural units such
as ceiling, building partition and industrial use. Finally, the most important result obtained from
this study is that agri waste materials can be utilised for the preparation of commercially feasible
and satisfactory insulation material that which is of organic origin. The present new insulation
material is a candidate to be commercialized in the future. Farmers living in rural areas can use
this material for insulation instead of burning, which will create new jobs and provide a
considerable amount of energy savings.

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