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Accepted Manuscript


Acoustic energy absorption properties of fibrous materials: A review

Xiaoning Tang, Xiong Yan

PII: S1359-835X(17)30260-9
Reference: JCOMA 4722

To appear in: Composites: Part A

Received Date: 26 January 2017

Revised Date: 17 May 2017
Accepted Date: 1 July 2017

Please cite this article as: Tang, X., Yan, X., Acoustic energy absorption properties of fibrous materials: A review,
Composites: Part A (2017), doi:

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Acoustic Energy Absorption Properties of Fibrous Materials: A Review

Xiaoning Tang*, Xiong Yan*

Key Laboratory of Textile Science and Technology, Ministry of Education, College of Textiles,
Donghua University, Shanghai 201620, China
(*Corresponding author. E-mail: (X. Tang); (X. Yan))

Fibrous materials have been widely used in noise reduction due to the porous structures. In this
review, available studies regarding the prediction methods of acoustic absorption coefficient are
gathered. Empirical model could predict the acoustic absorption coefficient based on facile airflow
resistivity, while microstructural model is determined by detailed structural parameters of fibrous
materials. Various fibrous materials including inorganic and metallic fibers, synthetic fibers, natural
fibers, and nanofibrous membranes for noise reduction are reviewed. Inorganic and metallic fibers
have the advantages of corrosion resistance, high temperature resistance and long service life. The
tailored cross-sections of synthetic fibers such as circle, hollow and triangle are beneficial to improve
acoustic absorption properties. Natural fibrous materials are biodegradable, renewable and
eco-friendly. Nanofibrous materials are lightweight and have good potential in low frequency noise
reduction. Herein, we summarized the recent advances concerning the acoustic absorption of various
fibrous materials.
A. Fibres; A. Natural fibres; A. Fabrics/textiles; B. Physical properties

1 Introduction
Acoustic absorption materials could be classified as resonant absorber and porous absorber.
Resonant absorber is the equivalent parallel connection of multiple Helmholtz resonator, where
acoustic energy is consumed by the internal resonance effect [1-3]. Resonance absorption material
can be usually divided into single resonator, perforated and micro-perforated panel, and membrane

absorbent [4-6]. This structure has unique advantage to reduce low frequency but the octave
bandwidth is narrow, and the machinability is poor. For porous absorber, there is large number of
interconnected pores with small diameter, which uniformly distributed inside the materials [7-10].
Therefore, foams, fibrous materials and composites with internal pores could be seen as porous
sound-absorbing materials. It has good acoustic absorption properties in high frequency range, while
the acoustic absorption coefficient at low frequency range is weak [11]. The production cost of
porous absorber is cheap, and the application range is gradually increasing.
With the development of the society, fibrous materials are extensively used as acoustic
absorption medium in noise reduction and vibration control [12-14]. The mechanism of sound
attenuation is due to the friction between acoustic waves and fiber assemblies. Acoustic absorption
coefficient is defined as the ratio of absorbed sound energy to total incident sound energy, the
formulas could be seen as follows:

Eα Ei − Er − Et
α= = (1)
Ei Ei

Ii n −1 2 4n
α= = 1− ( ) = (2)
Ir n +1 (1 + n) 2

n= (3)

where α is acoustic absorption coefficient, Eα is the absorbed sound energy, Ei is the total incident
sound energy, Er is the reflected sound energy and Et is the transmitted sound energy. Ii and Ir are the
intensities of incident and reflected acoustic waves respectively; n is the standing wave ratio of
maximum (Pmax) and minimum (Pmin) values of acoustic wave pressure. The acoustic absorption
coefficient of fibrous materials is usually determined by porosity, thickness, and pore size, etc.
It has been demonstrated that fibrous materials are economical and efficient in noise reduction.
A series of works have been done to investigate the relationship between noise reduction coefficient
and various macro/micro-structural parameters [15, 16]. Both empirical and theoretical models were
developed to characterize the acoustic absorption properties. Empirical models were established by
the applying regression analysis of measured impedance and specific flow resistivity.
Micro-structural models were based on the physical properties including acoustic propagation and
the characteristic of fibrous materials. The modeling process mainly focused on the fiber length, fiber
diameter, porosity, bulk density and thickness, etc. In addition, the applications of fibrous materials
including inorganic fibers, synthetic fibers, natural fibers and nano-fibers for noise reduction have
been reported at the present time. Few reviews have been written on this topic in the past decade
with a more limited scope. Xi and coworkers [17] have reviewed the sound absorption properties of
metal fiber porous materials. A review was also published to gather the body of knowledge on the
sound transmission properties of bio-based materials, which helps to understand the acoustic
absorption of some multi-porous bio-based materials [18]. Recently, Berardi and Iannace have given
a brief literature review about the acoustic properties of some natural fibers, and the purpose of the
work is focused on the building applications [19]. However, to the best knowledge of us, there is no
relevant reviews concentrated on the acoustic absorption mechanism and properties of various
fibrous materials including inorganic and metallic fibers, synthetic fibers, natural fibers and
nanofibrous membranes. This review attempts to gather the state of art concerning the established
acoustic models and various fibrous assemblies in noise reduction. It is expected that our work will
benefit the investigation for acoustic absorption properties of fibrous materials, and broaden its
applications in noise reduction.

2 Acoustic absorption mechanism

Currently, the established formulations of acoustic absorption could be primarily classified into
empirical and microstructural models. The propagation of acoustic wave in fiber assemblies is
mainly determined by bulk density, thickness, porosity, fiber size and various microstructural
parameters, etc. It should be noted that the theory of Zwikker and Kosten is the foundation of
acoustic absorption prediction, which has been widely utilized to predict the acoustic absorption
coefficient. Zwikker and Kosten [20] proposed the formula of acoustic absorption coefficient for
porous materials. The equations consist of surface characteristic impedance Z and acoustic
absorption α, characteristic impedance Z0, propagation constant γ, thickness l, air density ρ0, and
sound velocity c0. The complete formulations could be illustrated as follows:

Z = Z 0 coth(γl ) (4)

Z-ρ 0c0
α = 1- (5)
Z + ρ 0c0

2.1 Empirical models

Empirical methods were created by applying regression equations to various parameters
concerning the impedance and specific flow resistivity. It should be noted that each empirical method
is valid for restricted types of fibrous materials with certain intrinsic characteristics [21]. For instance,
Delany and Bazley [22] proposed a facile empirical model for fibrous materials, which predict
acoustic behavior just by non-acoustical parameters of airflow resistivity. The established methods
mainly consist of two indexes, which are the characteristic impedance Z0 = R + jX and propagation
coefficient γ = α + jβ. Values R and X are the real part and imaginary part of characteristic
impedance Z0 respectively; α and β are the real part and imaginary part of propagation coefficient γ
respectively. The computational formulas as follows:

 f  

R = ρ 0c0 1 + c1    (6)
  σ  

  f  c4 
X = ρ 0c0 c3    (7)
  σ  
2πf  f 
α = c5   (8)
c0  σ 

2πf  f  

β= 1 + c7    (9)
σ   σ  

where f is the frequency of propagation weave (Hz), ρ0c0 is the characteristic impedance of air
(Pa·s/m), ρ0 is the density of air, c0 is the velocity of sound (m/s), σ is the specific flow resistivity
(Rayl/m) and c1-c8 are the parameters corresponding to different fibrous materials. The values of
c1-c8 for various established models are listed in Table 1.

Table 1 Values of parameters c1-c8 for different empirical models, including Delany-Bazley [22],
Dunn-Davern [23], Miki [24, 25], Garai-Pompoli [26], Ramis [27] and Yoon [28] respectively. (c1-c8:
correction factors in different empirical models)

Model c1 c2 c3 c4 c5 c6 c7 c8
Delany-Bazley 0.057 0.754 0.087 0.732 0.189 0.595 0.098 0.700
Dunn-Davern 0.114 0.369 0.099 0.758 0.168 0.715 0.136 0.491
Miki 0.070 0.632 0.107 0.632 0.160 0.618 0.109 0.618
Garai-Pompoli 0.078 0.623 0.074 0.660 0.159 0.571 0.121 0.530
Ramis 0.046 0.255 0.112 0.967 0.060 1.256 0.039 0.541
Yoon 0.057 0.734 0.087 0.732 0.0978 0.700 0.189 0.595

Furthermore, Komatsu [29] established a modified model including characteristic impedance

and propagation constant based on Delany-Bazley and Miki models for predicting the acoustic
properties of fibrous materials. The expressions of Komatsu model as follows:

 f 
R = ρ 0c0 1 + 0.00027(2 − log )6.2  (10)
 σ 

  f 

X = − ρ 0c0 0.0047 2 − log   (11)

  σ  
ω f 
α = 0.0069  2 − log  (12)
c0  σ

ω f  

β= 1 + 0.0004 2 − log   (13)
c 0   σ  

This model was empirically derived from airflow resistivity σ, which was particularly effective
for the prediction for high-density fibrous materials where f/σ < 0.01 m3/kg and low-density ones
where f/σ > 0.1 m3/kg. In addition, a more simple equivalent fluid model is proposed to describe the
acoustic behavior of recycled shoddy fibers, which just need the easily measured local bulk density
[30]. Empirical relations between the bulk density and measured parameters including porosity,
resistivity, tortuosity, viscous and thermal characteristic lengths, and static thermal permeability have
been established. The established model is appropriate for predicting the acoustic damping behavior
of shoddy fibers considering the variability of local bulk density.

The effects of fiber motion on the acoustic damping properties of fibrous materials was also
investigated by Dahl and coworkers [31]. The model assumes that fiber assemblies are arranged such
that sound could propagate in the random direction to the fiber arrangement. The resonant frequency
of sound wave absorption could be mainly attributed to the vibration of fibrous materials. In addition,
the phase relationship between acoustic velocity and viscous force in the materials should be also
considered to describe the acoustic damping behavior accurately. Vibration theory was utilized to
predict the theoretical equation of maximum sound absorption coefficient. In the vibration
attenuation modeling equations, acoustic absorption coefficient was the function of maximum
tension, frequency and compression elastic modulus, which could be described as follows [32]:

  0.045k  2   2πDf 
α = 1 −  4   sin 
  r T    c 
 

where α is sound absorption coefficient, r is the inner radius of standing wave tube, D is the back
cavity of measured samples, T is the maximum tension, k is the conditional value of compression
modulus for back cavity and fibrous materials. It can be seen that the above-mentioned simplified
empirical models are based on facile parameters. Furthermore, specific models are established for
different types of fibrous materials, including shoddy-based fiber acoustic absorption materials,
kapok based nonwovens [33], and various natural fibers including kenaf, hemp and sheep wool [19].

2.2 Microstructural models

Microstructural approaches are based on the microscopic physical characteristics of acoustic
wave propagation during fibrous materials. The complex independent variables including porosity,
tortuosity, fiber density, viscoelasticity, thermal loss and air movement are emphatically considered
during the modeling process. Johnson-Allard method [34-36] was created based on the effects of air
viscose resistance and thermal conduction, which denoted by dynamic bulk density ρ(w) of air and
dynamic bulk modulus K(ω). It should be noted that ρ(w) is related with the inertial and viscose
force per unit volume of air in fibrous materials and K(ω) is determined by the divergence of
averaged air molecular displacement to the averaged variation of pressure. The model is valid for
porous and fibrous materials filled with air at room temperature, which involves porosity, tortuosity,
flow resistivity, viscosity characteristic length and thermal characteristic length, as follows:

 σφ 
ρ (ω ) = ρ0α ∞ 1 + GJ (ω )  (15)
 iα ∞ ρ 0ω 
  σ 'φ  

K (ω ) = γP0 / γ − (γ − 1)1 + 
GJ ' ( Pγ ω )   (16)
  iα ∞ ρ 0 Prω  

 4iα ∞2ηρ 0ω 
1/ 2

GJ (ω ) = 1 +  (17)
 σ 2 Λ2φ 2 
1/ 2
 iρ Λ '2 Pγ ω 
GJ ' ( Pγ ω ) = 1 + 0 

 16η 

where ρ0 is the density of air, φ is the porosity of fibrous materials, α ∞ is the tortuosity of fibrous

materials, Λ is the viscosity characteristic dimension, Λ ' is the thermal characteristic dimension,

η is air viscosity, γ is the specific heat ratio of air, σ is the specific flow resistivity (Rayl/m) and

P0 is the air equilibrium pressure. Acoustic absorption models for glass fibers and mineral wool
fibers are created under the limited conditions that air at normal temperature and atmospheric
pressure. Moreover, the vibration of fibrous materials on acoustic absorption was ignored and airflow
perpendicular to paralleled fibers, ρ0 = 1.2 kg/m3, Pr = 0.702, γ = 1.4, P0 = 101320 N/m2. The
equations could be shown as follows:

ρ (ω ) = 1.2 + [− 0.0364( ρ 0 f / σ ) −2 − i 0.1144( ρ 0 f / σ ) −1 ] (kg / m 3 )

1/ 2

K (ω ) = 101320
i 29.64 + 2.82( ρ 0 f / σ ) − 2 + i 24.9( ρ 0 f / σ ) −1 ]1/ 2

( N / m2 ) (20)
i 21.17 + [2.82( ρ 0
f / σ ) + i 24.9( ρ 0 f / σ ) ]
−1 1/ 2

Thermal permeability k0' is an important role in the thermal exchange process between fibrous

frame and saturating medium. Therefore, thermal permeability k0' was introduced to the

Johnson-Allard model to accurately describe the acoustic absorption of fibrous materials [37]. The
modified Johnson-Allard model including dynamic density (ρL(ω)) and bulk modulus (KL(ω)), which

was shown as follows:

ρ 0α ∞  σφ 4ωρ α 2η 
ρ L (ω ) = 1− j 1 + j 2 02 ∞2  (21)
φ  ωρ 0α ∞ σ φ Λ 
γP0 / φ
K L (ω ) = −1
 φη  4ωρ 0 Pr k0' 2  
1/ 2

γ − (γ − 1) 1 − j 1 + j 
 ωρ 0 Pr k0'  φ 2ηΛ'2  
 

In addition, Kino and Ueno [38, 39] revised the model of Johnson-Allard by introducing a
correction factor of flow resistivity according to data fitting. The equations could be presented as

 σφ  α ∞ (1 + i ) 
1/ 2

ρ K (ω ) = ρ 0α ∞ 1 +  2ηρ 0ω   (23)
 iα ∞ ρ 0ω 

σφ Λ / N11/ 2( ( ))  

  1 / 2 −1 

8 η  (1 + γ ) 
K K (ω ) = γP0 γ − (γ − 1) 1 +  2ηρ 0 Prω   
1/ 6 3 
  iρ 0 Prω  (
8η (Λ ' / N 2 )   
 

1/ 2
 α (1 + i ) N1 
GK (ω ) =  2ηρ 0ω ∞ (25)
 σφΛ 
 
1/ 2
 Λ' (1 + i ) N 2 
GK' (Pr ω) =  2 ηρ0 Pr ω  (26)
 8 η 
 

N1 = 8.622 exp(1.969 ×10 −6 σ ) − 5.54 exp(− 3.682 ×10 −5 σ ) (27)

N 2 = 560.3 exp(− 5.565 ×10 −4 σ ) + 50.02 exp(− 5.127 ×10 −5 σ ) (28)

where N1 and N2 are the correction factors of flow resistivity empirical functions obtained by fitting
data respectively. In addition, the acoustic behavior of glass wool and polyester fiber samples were
predicted by effective density, bulk modulus, propagation constant and characteristic impedance. The
results indicated that this new model was more accurate than Johnson-Allard for prediction of
normal incidence absorption coefficient and other acoustic properties. The calculation for viscosity
and thermal characteristic lengths has been developed, and then applied for glass and polyester fibers.
The results showed that the diameter of fiber, two characteristic lengths and the equivalent pore
cross-sectional shape factors could be derived by flow resistivity, bulk density, fiber material density
and the fiber diameter [40, 41]. It should be noted that this work has broken a new path for the
measurement of non-acoustical parameters of fibrous media, based on measured bulk density and
fiber diameter.
Both empirical and microstructural models were established to characterize the acoustic
damping of fibrous materials. Simplified empirical models are widely used to predict the acoustic
absorption coefficient of fibrous assemblies. For example, Delany-Bazley model and its modified
forms are just based on the the parameter of flow resistivity. The acoustic absorption mechanism of
fibrous materials could be mainly attributed to the air viscous effect, which convert acoustic energy
into thermal energy. Furthermore, the relationship between various measured parameters and bulk
density has been established. The modified models are appropriate to predict the incident acoustic
absorption coefficient according to local bulk density. Microstructural models are based on the
structural parameters of fibrous materials. The famous Johnson-Allard model simultaneously
considered the air viscous effect and thermal conduction effect, which denoted by dynamic density
(ρL(ω)) and bulk modulus (KL(ω)) respectively. Compared with empirical models, microstructural
models could predict the acoustic absorption coefficient more accurately.

3 Inorganic and metallic fibrous materials

Inorganic and metallic fibrous materials have received a great deal of attention in noise
reduction applications due to the characteristics such as large specific surface area, high mechanical
strength and excellent permeability. Various inorganic fiber including glass wool, carbon fiber and
basalt fiber are developed and applied in noise reduction over the past few decades. As the modified
generation of metal porous materials, metallic fiber contains a large number pores, and has the
advantages such as corrosion resistance, high temperature resistance and long service life. Recently,
stainless steel fiber, nickel fiber, aluminum and its alloy fiber, and iron inter metallic fiber have been
developed as noise reduction materials. A summary of studies on the acoustic absorption of inorganic
and metallic fibrous materials has been listed in Table 2. It can be known that fibrous inorganic and
metallic materials provide a wide application in noise reduction. The acoustic absorption properties

of glass fiber, rock wool, carbon fiber, basalt fiber and various metallic fiber have been investigated.
Compared with commonly used natural and synthetic fibrous materials, metallic fibrous
materials show a great potential in acoustic absorption, it is becoming irreplaceable for noise-control
in harsh environments. Stainless steel fiber with the diameter of 8~100 µm, was applied as acoustic
silencer in intake, exhaust port auxiliary and sound absorption liner in the engine [12]. Aluminum
fiber has been used in the acoustic absorption of concert halls, exhibition halls, classrooms, and
highways, subways, tunnels and the other humid underground areas. Wang and coworkers [42] has
established a semi-empirical acoustic absorption model based on nonlinear flow resistance for metal
fibers. Furthermore, the effects of nonlinear coefficient on the acoustic absorption of porous metal
fiber have been investigated. The results indicated that metallic fibrous materials with gradient pore
structure can improve acoustic absorption properties. The gradient porous structure with higher
porosity and greater thickness presents better acoustic absorption. Sintered fibers with pore structure
provide numerous bubble nucleations, thus contributes to good acoustic absorption. As shown in
Fig.1(a), the surface of test sample is parallel or normal to the fiber plane, while the sintered fibrous
metal samples as shown in Fig.1(b). The anisotropic acoustic properties are investigated, the results
indicated that sintered fibrous materials have higher sound absorption coefficient and lower sound
speed in the parallel direction to the fiber plane than those in the normal direction [43]. In addition, it
is necessary to choose suitable fiber diameter, thickness and porosity in order to obtain optimum
noise reduction efficiency.
Among various inorganic fibrous materials, glass fiber has been extensively used in noise
reduction. It is cheaper than carbon fiber due to the large availability all over the world. Currently, it
has been used in many industrial fields, such as buildings, constructions, communication and
transportation. Glass fiber can provide excellent mechanical properties at reduced weight compared
with metallic materials. The dynamic density and bulk modulus were evaluated based on the
measured flow resistivity, thus the propagation constant and acoustic absorption coefficient can be
calculated. It has been indicated that increasing the thickness of glass fiber panel can improve the
acoustic absorption ability, especially in low frequency range [44]. Recently, the application of glass
fiber obtained from printed circuit boards in noise reduction has been reported [45]. The results
showed that the high porous structure of the recycled glass fiber leads to an excellent acoustic
absorption ability in a broad-band frequency range. The average acoustic absorption coefficient of
over 0.8 can be achieved in the frequency of 100-6400 Hz with 30 mm thickness. The internal and
cross-sectional structures of glass fiber felt with different density are shown in Fig.2. It could be seen
that cross-section of low density sample (L) exhibited randomly distributed fibers. Samples with
dense (D) and middle (M) density have obvious layered structure, and the axes of fibers were located
on planes parallel to each other. The inner structure of samples L and D were disordered, and sample
M has network structure [46]. Glass fiber felt with hierarchical structure can significantly improve
the air flow resistivity and acoustic absorption.
Basalt fiber has better tensile strength than glass fiber, while greater failure strain than carbon
fiber as well as good resistance to chemical attack, impact load, and fire. The application of basalt
fiber as reinforcing materials for structural concrete is gradually increasing. Moretti et al. [47] has
developed acoustic absorption panel based on basalt fiber for high efficient energy system in
buildings. As shown in Fig.3, innovative mineral fiber insulating panel was prepared for building
refurbishment. The composite panel not only has good acoustic and thermal behavior, but also has
unique advantages such as sustainability, robust mechanical strength, fire resistance and very thin
thickness. In addition, acoustic absorption structure constructed with fibrous layer and carbon fibers
was proposed and the acoustic properties were experimentally studied, as shown in Fig.4. The results
indicated that composite helical-shaped acoustic absorber coated with carbon fiber exhibited better
acoustic absorption than those of plain mulberry paper especially at low frequencies. The acoustic
properties changes depending on the thickness of the air cavity between the layers and porosity of the
fibrous layers themselves [48, 49]. Glass fiber filled honeycomb sandwich panel has been prepared
in order to improve the acoustic properties, the schematic illustration as shown in Fig.5. The effects
of different filling shapes (random and fiber ball), fiber diameter, fiber content and air-layer on
acoustic absorption were explored. It has been found that random glass fiber assembly and various
fiber contents would determine the resonant frequency of honeycomb sandwich panels [50].
Therefore, it has demonstrated that inorganic and metallic fibers are potential in noise reduction
applications. The acoustic absorption properties of porous material are good in high frequency but
poor in low frequency according to the acoustic absorption principle. Furthermore, the pore structure
of metallic fibrous materials could be designed and optimized to improve the acoustic absorption in
low frequency. On the other hand, most of the reported models are based on the characteristics of
rigid fibrous materials. These models can accurately predict the acoustic absorption coefficient of
glass fiber, carbon fiber and metallic fiber, etc. With the development of industry and technology, it
is expected to see more novel properties and applications of inorganic and metallic fiber porous
materials are being developed in the future.
It can be seen from the above content that inorganic and metallic fibers have different
application fields. The production cost of inorganic fiber is relative, thus it has been widely used in
various fields, such as construction, transportation and anechoic room. It has been demonstrated that
glass fiber assembly can effectively improve the sound absorption efficiency of honeycomb
sandwich. Furthermore, the acoustic absorption of activated carbon fiber is better than rock wool and
glass wool. The acoustic absorption coefficient of carbon fiber hybrid composite is higher than
Kevlar fiber at low-mid frequency range. It has been reported that metal fiber felts could be taken as
sound absorption materials in silencers. Gradient porous structure and sintering treatment are benefit
to improve the acoustic absorption of metallic fibers. Metallic fibers have unique advantages in the
noise reduction of extreme environment, due to its characteristics including high temperature
resistance and corrosion resistance.

Table 2 A summary of studies on the acoustic absorption of inorganic and metallic fibrous materials

No. Fibers Key findings Reference

Acoustic behavior of rock wool is similar to glass
1 Glass wool and rock wool Wang and Torng [44]

Non-woven composites with activated carbon fiber

2 Carbon fiber and glass fiber as surface layer had higher sound absorption Chen and Jiang [51]

coefficients than glass fiber surfaced composites

Metallic fiber materials have been utilized as

3 Fibrous metal materials Sun et al. [12]
silencers in cars

Compared the acoustical methods of Bies-Allard

4 Glass wool Kino [52]
and Kino-Allard

The suitability of metal fiber felts as absorption

5 Metal fiber felts Lippitz et al. [53]
material in silencers

6 Glass fiber reinforced The acoustic absorption properties of composites Prabhakaran et al.

epoxy have been studied [54]

Investigated the anisotropic acoustic properties of

7 Sintered fibrous metals Meng et al. [43]
sintered fibrous metals

Glass fiber recycled

The utilization of recycled glass fibers in noise
8 from deserted print circuit Sun et al. [45]
reduction applications

The sound absorption characteristics are

significantly dependent upon the

9 Metal fiber Wang et al. [55]
material parameters such as fiber diameter, porosity,

and material thickness

Sound insulation property is affected by both the

10 Glass fiber felt Yang et al. [46]
sound incident direction and composite structure

The application of carbon fiber can increase the

11 Carbon fiber sound absorption efficiency of helical-shaped Kim et al. [48]

composite sound absorber

Flow resistivity measurements is the basis for a

12 Fouled sintered fiber felts Lippitz et al. [56]
fouling model for sintered fiber felts

The panel has good sound absorption coefficient,

13 Basalt fiber Moretti et al. [47]
which increase with thickness and density

Carbon fiber hybrid composites had a higher

14 Carbon fiber acoustic absorption coefficient than Kevlar fiber at Wang et al. [57]

low-mid frequency

Glass fiber filled Glass fiber assembly can effectively improve the

15 honeycomb sandwich sound absorption efficiency of honeycomb sandwich Yang et al. [50]

panels at the frequency below 4.5 kHz

Metal fiber porous Gradient porous structure can effectively improve

16 Zhu et al. [58]
materials the sound absorption performance

4 Synthetic fibrous materials

Compared with natural fibrous materials, the structural diversity of synthetic fibers can improve
the noise reduction efficiency. Synthetic fibers are prepared and processed to make fibrous felts or
sheets by fiber spinning and web formation technologies, respectively. Generally, polymers are
directly used to spin fibers in-situ and then laid down immediately to make webs. Fibers in the webs
could be bonded mechanically, thermally, even chemically to improve structural integrity and
stability. Fibrous felts are ideal candidate for acoustic absorption materials because of the total
surface and porosity. The effects of total surface area, fiber denier, fiber cross section, packing
density and thickness of needle-punched polyester nonwovens were investigated. Scanning electron
photographs of 15 denier round, 4DG and trilobal polyester fibers are shown in Fig.6. The results
indicated that total surface and fabric density determined sound absorption positively, and fibers with
profiled cross-section shape show higher noise reduction coefficient [59]. Especially, thermally
bonded fabrics made from octagonal fibers with the large total surface area show higher noise
reduction coefficient than those made from trilobal and round fibers [60]. Similar conclusions further
confirmed by Kino and Ueno [41], they examined the effects of different cross-section shapes on the
acoustic absorption properties of polyester fiber specimens.
The recyclability of synthetic fibrous materials for noise reduction has also been investigated
[61]. The processing methods towards recycled fibers including thermal bonding, resin bonding and
mechanical bonding, etc. Various acoustic absorption models based on the measured parameters
including bulk density, open porosity, tortuosity, static airflow resistivity and normal incidence were
established, which can predict the noise reduction coefficient of shoddy fiber based materials [30]. It
has been reported that acoustic absorption composites were successfully produced by compression
molding technique based on polyester and polypropylene selvages. The prepared porous composite
has excellent acoustic absorption properties in the acoustic frequency range of above 2000 Hz [62].
In addition, recycled fibrous materials have the advantages of low cost, lightweight and excellent
biodegradability. The blending of natural and synthetic fiber for noise reduction is also an emerging
trend for noise reduction, which could combine the advantages of different fibers. Thilagavathi et al.
[63] reported that needle-punched polypropylene nonwovens were produced by blending with
banana, bamboo and jute fibers respectively. The results indicated that bamboo/polypropylene
nonwoven had the highest noise reduction coefficient. The sound absorption and vibration control
properties make them effective choice as motor vehicle interiors for noise reduction applications.
Veerakumar and Selvakumar [64] observed that kapok/polypropylene nonwoven fabric has excellent
noise reduction coefficient over wide frequency. Kapok/polypropylene fiber assemblies of 30:70
with high bulk density and low porosity exhibited the highest acoustic absorption coefficient under
back air gap conditions. Needle-punched fabrics of polypropylene blended with jute and kenaf fibers
have also been prepared [65]. A summary of partial studies on synthetic fibrous materials for noise
reduction as listed in Table 3. The acoustic absorption behavior of various synthetic based fibrous
material was investigated for noise reduction applications.
The application of fiber reinforced composite in noise reduction is gradually increasing recently.
It has been reported that composites consisting of chlorinated polyethylene and seven-hole polyester
fibers has high acoustic absorption coefficient as well as strong mechanical properties [66].
Polypropylene fiber can not only increase the strength of porous concrete but also its acoustic
absorption efficiency at low content of 0.3 %. The measurements indicated that porous acoustic
absorbing concrete slabs can significantly reduce railway noise at different train speeds [67]. The
spacer polyester fabric/polyurethane foam composites are also have high strengths and sound
absorption, thus are promising potentials for construction materials and light-weight composite
planks [68]. The schematic diagram of sandwich plank as shown in Fig.7. In the composite structure,
the top layer was the polyester nonwoven layer, the insert layer was the thermoplastic polyurethane
honeycomb grid, and the bottom layer was the polyurethane foam layer. It has been found that the
sound absorption coefficient fell from 0.88 to 0.94 for the frequencies between 2000 and 4000 Hz
with insert layer of 10 mm thickness [69]. As shown in Fig.8, composite nonwovens with different
piled orientation for two layer polypropylene nonwoven selvages were prepared. The effects of piled
orientation on acoustic absorption was explored, the results indicated that the acoustic absorption
coefficient of composite nonwovens reaches about 0.94 at frequency higher than 1890Hz whatever
for 0o/90 o and 45o/45 o plied orientation [70]. It has been demonstrated that polypropylene/polyester
carpets have 45% higher acoustic absorption coefficient than traditional jute/polypropylene
composites, which are suitable for transportation and construction industries [71]. These alternative
materials would contribute to the cost benefit as well as noise reduction composites for various
applications based on synthetic fibrous materials.
Currently, a wide range of synthetic fibers were taken for noise reduction applications. The
structural forms of synthetic fiber based acoustic absorber including nonwoven fabrics, fiber felts
and fiber reinforced composites. The different cross-sections of synthetic fiber such as circle, hollow
and triangle are beneficial to improve acoustic absorption properties. It has been reported that hollow
polyester fiber has higher sound absorption and lighter weight than regular polyester fiber. Synthetic
fiber has better mechanical properties than synthetic fiber, such as good strength and flexibility. It is
also feasible to obtain flame retardant properties of synthetic fiber by functional processing. In
addition, synthetic fiber could be blended with natural fiber to produce nonwoven composites fabrics.
The role of different blend ratios towards optimized acoustic absorption coefficient has been studied.
The recyclability of synthetic fibrous materials also can minimize the carbon foot print and pollutant
emission, during disposing-off the samples after their service life.

Table 3 A summary of studies on the acoustic absorption of synthetic fibrous materials

No. Fiber Key findings Reference

Recycled polyester Sound absorption coefficients increased with the
1 Lou et al. [62]
nonwoven fabric thickness, but decreased with the density

A model has been developed to predict the acoustic

2 Polyester fiber properties of polyester fiber according to thickness Garai and Pompoli [26]

and density

Para-aramid and Potential substrate for conventional acoustic materials

3 Kosuge et al. [72]
polyester fiber including glass and flame retardant foam

Co-polyester Total surface area and fabric

4 Tascan and Vaughn [59]
low-melt fiber density affected acoustic damping positively

The effects of cross-section including circle, hollow

5 Polyester fiber felts Kino and Ueno [41]
and triangle on acoustic damping

Hollow and regular Hollow polyester fiber has higher sound absorption
6 Na and Cho [65]
polyester than regular polyester fiber

Polyester fiber and

The sound absorption coefficients of the specimens
7 thermoplastic Lin et al. [69]
were over 0.93 of 2000-4000 Hz.

8 Seven-hole hollow Acoustical absorption of the composites increased Jiang et al. [66]

polyester fiber with the increasing fiber content

Woven with lower weft yarn twist absorb sound more

9 Polyester fiber efficiently and air permeability can be used as a Soltani and Zerrebini [73]

criterion of sound absorption

The biofiber/PLA composite had the highest

Kraft pulp fiber and
10 acoustic absorption coefficient with the density Du et al. [74]
polylactic acid fiber
of 0.35 g/cm3

Fiber content has an effect on not only the strength of

11 Polypropylene porous concrete but also its acoustic absorption Zhao et al. [67]

property, and the optimum fiber content is 0.3%.

The sound absorption coefficient of polyester

fiber/polypropylene/thermoplastic polyurethane
12 Polyester fiber Huang et al. [75]
composite board can reach a value of 0.698 below

1000 Hz

The spacer fabric/PU foam composites are proven to

Kevlar and polyester
13 have high strength, sound absorption and fire Pan et al. [68]
retardant properties

The recycled polyester fiber /waste wool can absorb

Recycled polyester
14 more than 70% incident noise in the frequency range Patnaik et al. [76]
of 50-5700 Hz

Polypropylene Polypropylene nonwoven selvages can improve

15 Lin et al. [70]
selvages nonwovens sound absorption

Polypropylene/polyester carpets have higher sound

Polypropylene and
16 absorption than traditional jute/polypropylene Pan et al. [71]

Prediction the acoustical absorption of polyester fiber

17 Polyester fiber Pelegrinis et al. [77]
based on Kozeny-Carman flow resistivity model

5 Natural fibrous materials

Natural fibrous materials are often light, biodegradable and environmental-friendly [78-80].
There is a gradually increasing upsurge in the utilization of natural fibrous materials towards noise
reduction applications. Natural fibrous materials with poor spinnability such as bamboo fiber,
tea-leaf fiber, luffa fiber, date palm fiber, fique fiber, coir fiber, kenaf, hemp and cane fiber were
extensively investigated for acoustic absorption. The construction forms including fiber felts and
fiber reinforced composites, as shown in Table 4. It has been found that tea-leaf fiber exhibited better
acoustic absorption properties than polypropylene and polyester fiber [81], bamboo fiberboard has
higher acoustic absorption coefficient than plywood with similar density [82]. Kenaf and ramie
nonwovens are good choice for vibration reduction applications in automobile industry due to
excellent strength and renewable properties [83]. The measured acoustic absorption coefficient of
kenaf and sheep wool fiber as shown in Fig.9. In addition, the acoustic properties of natural fibers
such as coir fibers and tea-leaf fibers have also been investigated. The results indicated that
compressed coconut coir fiber sheet has high sound absorption coefficient [81]. Two approaches
including Allard and Delany-Bazley models were implemented for acoustic absorption
characterization of coir fibers based nonwovens. The results indicated that Allard method can predict
resonance absorption accurately, through the calculation method was relatively complicated. The
Delany-Bazley method could well describe acoustic damping behavior for overall broadband, and it
has good applicability for stiffened industrial fibers [84].
Kapok fiber has excellent acoustic absorption properties due to large lumen structure, as shown
in Fig.10. The specific structure can increase the viscous loss of acoustic waves and sound energy
attenuation [85]. The low density, large lumen and thin wall structures, which are beneficial to
increase the friction between acoustic waves and fiber surface. Previous studies indicated that kapok
fiber assemblies exhibited better acoustic absorption properties than glass wool and cotton fibers.
The reasons could be attributed to the hollow structures which efficiently convert acoustic energy
into mechanical and heat energy. The noise reduction coefficients of kapok based fibrous assemblies
are significantly determined by the bulk density, thickness and arrangement of kapok fibers, but less
dependent on fiber length [86]. Kapok fiber [87] and Typha fiber [88] have been blended with
various fibers including cellulose, polypropylene and polyester fibers, thus overcome the inherent
poor formability. The blend of kapok fibers with milkweed fibers has been reported, the results
indicated that kapok/milkweed nonwoven fabrics provide acoustic absorption as well as thermal
insulation properties [85]. Furthermore, the effects of physical parameters including fiber mixing
ratio, bulk density, and thickness on acoustic damping of nonwoven assemblies were studied. The
results indicated that acoustic absorption coefficient increased with the increase of thickness and
kapok fiber content, while there is an optimum bulk density for noise reduction [33]. The
comparisons of kapok fibers with polypropylene and hollow polyester fiber indicated that the large
lumen structures provide superior acoustic absorption properties at low frequency.
It can be seen that natural fiber exhibited high noise reduction efficiency, and various acoustic
properties have been characterized, including air flow resistivity, characteristic impedance, porosity
and fraction phenomenon. It can be observed that the surface of ramie fiber is very dense, as shown
in Fig.11 (a) and (b). The hollow structure of the fiber cross-sections could be seen from Fig.11 (c)
and (d), which is benefitial to absorb acoustic waves [89]. SEM micrographs of the surface textures
of bagasse and oil palm fiber before and after alkali treatment are shown in Fig.12. It was observed
that alkali treatment led to the separation of bagasse fiber bundles on the surface (Fig.12(b)) due to
the alkali dissolving hemi-cellulose, whereas the surface of the treated oil palm fiber (Fig.12(d)) was
found to contain pores on the surface [90]. In addition, Yang and coworkers [91] characterized the
internal micro-structures of goose down fibers, and the relationships between fractal dimension, fiber
mass, porosity and acoustic damping behavior were analyzed. It has been shown that the fractal
dimension increases with fiber belts mass, and decreases with the porosity. Moreover, the maximum
acoustic absorption coefficient reaches a maximum value at a critical fractal dimension, and critical
frequency decreases with the fractal dimension.
Recently, studies on the acoustic absorption of natural fibrous materials reinforced composites
have been focused. Jayamani et al. [92] examined the effects of oil palm empty fruit bunch fiber
loading and chemical treatment on acoustic absorption of zein composites, as shown in Fig.13. It can
be observed that fibers were tightly bonded to the matrix, which could be attributed to the alkali
treatment towards better interfacial bonding. The vast amount of small holes on the cross section of
oil palm empty fruit bunch fiber reinforced composites could be observed from Fig.13 (c) and (d).
Furthermore, the impurities present in the untreated fiber surface were removed and the fiber strands
were separated due to alkali treatment, and also led to a rougher surface, as shown in Fig.13(f).
Fig.14 demonstrates the porosity of the single ramie fiber bundle and the distribution of short ramie
fiber and ramie fabric in the poly(L-lactic acid) composites. When the acoustic wave is incident onto
the surface of porous structure of composites, considerable part of the acoustic energy can be
converted into heat energy thus increase noise reduction efficiency. The fabrication process of
laminated composites as shown in Fig.15 (a) and (b). Well-arrayed and hackled fibers were chopped
to desired length for making unidirectional fabrics by sewing method, and then sewed and tore off to
get the unidirectional sisal fabric. The composite laminates were fabricated by resin transfer molding,
and different resin injection methods can be used to control the amount of resin penetrating into the
lumens of sisal fibers, as shown in Fig.15 (c) [93].
Studies concerning the acoustic absorption properties of natural fibrous materials could be
divided into the following two aspects. Firstly, it is the development of novel natural fibers for noise
reduction. Apart from conventional cotton and hemp fibers, the acoustical behavior of several natural
fibrous materials including bamboo fiber, coir fiber, kapok fiber, windmill palm fiber, fique fiber,
luffa fiber, tea-leaf fiber and bark cloth fiber were investigated. It has been indicated that the large
lumen structure of kapok fiber is benefit to improve acoustic absorption. Tea-leaf fiber exhibits better
sound absorption than polyester and polypropylene nonwovens. The noise reduction efficiency of
bamboo fiberboard is also better than plywood board with similar density and thickness. Secondly, it
is the properties optimization of natural fibrous materials based acoustic absorber. It has been
reported that composites with short ramie fiber have better sound absorption properties than ramie
fabric reinforced composites. Samples including cotton and polyester fiber resulted in excellent
acoustic absorption in the mid-to-high frequency ranges. Natural fiber reinforced thermoplastic
composites have decreased density and enhanced sound absorption properties. It can be stated that
the investigation of some natural fibers with poor spinnability can increase the economic income of
crop growers and broaden its application ranges. The acoustical behavior of natural fibrous materials
could also be enhanced by structural optimization and modification.

Table 4 A summary of studies on the acoustic absorption of natural fibrous materials

No. Fibers Key findings References

Woolen materials can increase the transmission

1 Wool loss of stud walls by up to 6 dB or more, which can Ballagh [94]

be used as duct linings

Better noise reduction properties than plywood
2 Bamboo fiberboard Koizumi et al. [82]
with similar density

Tea-leaf fiber exhibits better sound absorption than

3 Tea-leaf fiber felts Ersoy and Kucuk [81]
polyester and polypropylene nonwovens

Ramie fiber reinforced Composites with short ramie fiber have better

4 poly(L-lactic acid) sound absorption property than the ramie fabric Chen et al. [89]

composites reinforced composites

Coir fiber has naturally good acoustical absorption

5 Coir fiber Fouladi et al. [95]
in medium and high frequency range

6 Bamboo fiber Bamboo fiber has good absorption properties Thilagavathi et al. [63]

The fractal phenomenon of down fiber for sound

7 Goose fiber felts Yang et al. [96]

Jute composite Jute shows better acoustical attenuation and

8 Fatima et al. [97]
materials flammability properties than glass fiber

Natural coir fiber had an average acoustic

9 Coir fiber felts absorption of 0.8 for f > 1360 Hz, f > 940 Hz and Fouladi et al. [84]

f > 578 Hz at thicknesses of 20, 30 and 45 mm

Polyurethane foams
The incorporation of tea-leaf-fibers into
loaded with tea-leaf
10 polyurethane can improve the acoustic absorption Ekict et al. [98]
fiber and
properties significantly
luffa cylindrica

The samples including 70% cotton and 30%

Natural fiber mixed
11 polyester resulted in excellent absorption in the Kucuk et al. [99]
nonwoven composites
mid-to-high frequency ranges

Acoustic absorption properties of these natural

Ramie, flax and jute fibers were calculated by the Delany-Bazley and
12 Yang and Li [100]
fibers Garai-Pompoli models, the results showed good

agreement with the experimental data

13 Hemp fiber Alkalization at higher temperature and higher Yilmaz et al. [101]

concentrations gives better results in normalized

sound absorption properties

The sound absorption coefficient of

14 Coconut fiber polyester/coconut fiber composite increases with Huang et al. [102]

the increased amount of coconut

Compared with glass fiber reinforced sandwich

15 Ramie fiber structures, ramie fiber counterparts showed Zheng et al. [103]

superior sound absorption properties

Good acoustic damping behavior due to hollow

16 Kapok fiber felts Xiang et al. [104]

Chemical treatment will reduce the sound

17 Luffa/epoxy composites Jayamani et al. [105]
absorption coefficient of composites

Sugar cane bagasse Sound absorption coefficient is mostly influenced

18 Doost-hoseini et al. [106]
fiber composites by the resin type

Sound absorption coefficient increases with the

19 Date palm fiber Khidir et al. [107]
increase of the flow resistivity and frequency

Measured air flow resistivity and thermal

20 Fique fiber felts Navacerrada et al. [108]
conductivity by impedance tube

Kenaf and hemp fiber Model of absorption coefficient, flow resistance

21 Berardi and Iannace [19]
felts and thickness

Sisal fiber poly The composites prepared with 30 wt % of sisal had

22 lactic acid the highest sound absorption compared with other Jayamani et al. [92]

bio-composites composites

The acoustic absorption of luffa fibers without

23 Luffa fibers Koruk and Genc [109]
matrix can be quite high even for a small thickness

Ficus natalensis, Ficus brachypoda and Antiaris

24 Bark cloth toxicaria bark cloth showed sound absorption Rwawiire et al. [110]

coefficient of 0.7, 0.71 and 0.91 at f > 6400 Hz

25 Cotton and cellulose Natural fibers in thermoplastic could decreases Krucinska et al. [111]

fiber thermoplastic density and increase sound absorption


The effects of pore diameter, porosity and air gap

26 Kapok nonwoven fabric Liu et al. [112]
on sound absorption at low frequency

Flax and polypropylene Large porosity volume fraction is benefit to

27 Merotte et al. [113]
fiber acoustic absorption

The acoustic absorption coefficient exceeds 0.5 for

28 Hemp shives Balciunas et al. [114]
the frequency range of 300-600 Hz

Windmill palm fiber was found to be appropriate

29 Windmill palm fiber Chen et al. [115]
for acoustic absorption materials

Kapok and milkweed Kapok and milkweed nonwoven fabrics provide

30 Ganesan and Karthik [85]
fiber sound as well as thermal insulation properties

6 Nanofibrous materials
Textile products have been widely utilized as noise reduction materials. Nanofibrous materials
can absorb acoustic energy efficiently due to the high surface area and effective air flow resistance
[116, 117]. It has been indicated that polyester microfiber felts with improved noise absorption
coefficient in the frequency range from 1200 Hz to 4000 Hz, which is propitious to control vehicle
vibration [118]. Fiber surface area can be significantly increased by using micro-fiber fabric with
fine denier. The acoustic absorption coefficient increased as fabric density increased to a certain
point at about 0.14 g/cm3, and then the absorption values decreased [119]. The presence of nanofiber
layers within polyurethane foam structure can significantly enhance the acoustic absorption
coefficient at low frequencies [120]. In addition, the resonant absorption frequency of the
nanofibrous membrane decreased with increasing area density of the membrane and increases with
decreasing average diameter of the nanofibers [121]. The possibility of nanofiber movement in the
structure has an impact on the resulted acoustic absorption. Therefore, nanofibrous layer has different
acoustic absorption properties in comparison with conventional fibrous materials. It has been proven
that the interaction between acoustic waves and the large specific surface of nanofibers, air friction
inside the nanopores and vibrations of the nanolayers all contributed to the improvement of acoustic

absorption [122]. Ozturk and coworkers [123] tried to predict the acoustic absorption behavior of
nanofibrous membrane by determining its resonance frequency. It was shown that electrospun
polyvinylidene fluoride covered acoustic foam is an efficient acoustic absorber, particularly in the
low- and middle-frequency regions, as shown in Fig.16. The piezoelectric electrospun membrane
plays a crucial role in converting acoustic energy into electric potential and absorbs sound waves
[124]. Therefore, acoustic absorption coefficient would be increased by increasing the surface
density of the nanofiber layer. In addition, they are lighter than conventional nonwovens, which can
be employed in a lot of industries that are dealing with noise problems.
Considering the unique characteristics of nanocarbon materials, studies on carbon nanotube and
graphene-based acoustic absorbers are gradually increased. It has been reported that the addition of
carbon nanotubes into the electrospun PVDF membranes can increase acoustic absorption at low
frequency [125]. The simultaneous effects of carbon nanotubes and nanoclay incorporated into
polyurethane foam on the sound absorption was also investigated. The results showed that the best
acoustic absorption properties can be obtained at the 0.12 wt.% content carbon nanotube and 0.34
wt.% nanoclay [120]. Qian et al. [126] reported that super-aligned carbon nanotube arrays can help
to increase the low frequency absorption performance of micro-perforated absorbers. Various
composites of polyurethane foam and multi-walled carbon nanotubes were synthesized and then
experimentally characterized to observe the effects of the nanofiller infusion on sound absorption.
The results indicated that polymeric foams incorporated with multi-walled carbon nanotubes
exhibited an increased ratio of sound absorption to density [127]. The acoustic behavior of carbon
nanotubes in the presence of acoustic waves propagating in gaseous media has also been studied by
molecular dynamics simulation methods [128]. It has been showed that the thermo-acoustic behavior
of carbon nanotubes can be simulated accurately, which is benefit to understand the acoustic
absorption mechanism.
Graphene is an effective additive in the formation of the polyurethane foam to decrease the cell
size and increase the tortuous paths of the foams, thus increase the acoustic absorption properties
[129]. It was found that the use of graphene oxide as a reinforcing phase in polyvinylpyrrolidone
nanofibers can increase the sound absorption coefficient of the samples at a frequency 1500 Hz up to
40 % [130]. Wu and Chou [124] have studied the acoustic and electrical properties of electrospun
polyvinylidene fluoride/graphene nanofibrous membranes, the results indicated that it has improved
piezoelectricity, and the absorption bandwidth moved to the low-frequency region. Natsuki and
coworkers [131] have proposed a theoretical method to analyze the acoustic wave propagation
through graphene sheet, which can predict the acoustic insulation property for multiple layers under
both normal and random incident acoustic source. Therefore, it can be concluded that both carbon
nanotubes and graphene sheets can be utilized as noise reduction materials for nano-devices because
of their small size, super electronic, and good mechanical properties.
Aerogel has unique porous structure which consists of more than 90 % air and less than 10 %
solid component in the high cross-linked networks. Considering the large surface area, low density,
low sound velocity, and inflammability, aerogel has received gradually increased attention in noise
reduction applications. Oh and coworkers [132] produced a flexible and mechanically strengthen
hybrid by embedding aerogel in nonwoven fiber matrix. The existence of a great amount of silica
aerogel with homogeneous and smaller size in the cell wall has positive effects on the acoustic
absorption, as shown in Fig.17. Furthermore, the comparison of the porous silica aerogel with
non-porous one has obviously indicated that the effects of porosity on the acoustic absorption
properties. The low-weight aerogel embedded with nanofiber materials can be one of the most
important materials for noise reduction in the future [133]. Silica-cellulose aerogel was also
successfully prepared from cellulose fiber, which has better sound absorption than those of cellulose
aerogel and commercial polystyrene foam [134]. Therefore, it can be concluded that nanofibrous
materials may provide new insights into the development of noise reduction applications.
It can be seen that nanofiber has better acoustic absorption properties than conventional fibers,
which could be attributed to the reduced diameter and increased specific surface area. The
incorporation of nanofiber layers into nonwovens can effectively enhance sound absorption.
Three-dimensional nanofibrous materials also has better acoustic absorption than commercial
sound-absorbing cotton in the low frequency range. The resonance of the nanofibrous membrane also
has positive effects on acoustic absorption, which is benefit to enhance low frequency noise
reduction. Composites absorber consist of nanofiber layers and foam structure exhibited considerable
enhancement in the acoustic absorption coefficient. It should be noted that the combination of
nanocarbon materials with nanofibers is an emerging trend in noise reduction. Both carbon
nanotubes and graphene were taken to fabricate sound absorber, the results indicated that they have
better acoustic behavior than conventional viscoelastic damping powder. Therefore, we can give the
conclusion that nanofibrous materials has unique advantages in the potential development of novel
acoustic absorber.

Table 5 A summary of studies on the acoustic absorption of nanofibrous materials

No. Fibers Key findings References

Polyester microfiber felts show improved noise

1 Polyester microfiber absorption in the middle frequency ranged from Nick et al. [118]

1200 Hz to 4000 Hz

Sound absorption increased as fabric density

Polyester and nylon
2 increased to a certain point of 0.14 g/cm3, which has Na et al. [119]
micro-fiber fabric
the highest value

The existence of silica aerogel with more

3 homogeneous and smaller size in the cell wall Oh et al. [132]
material has positive effect on acoustic absorption

The resonant frequency of the nanofibrous

membrane decreases with increasing area density of
4 alcohol nanofibrous Kalinova [121]
the membrane and increases with decreasing
average diameter of nanofiber

Poly-acrylonitrile and Nanofiber layers within foam structure can result in

5 polyurethane considerable enhancement in the acoustic absorption Bahrambeygi et al. [120]

nanofibers coefficient, especially at low frequency bands

Needless spinning
The absorbed acoustic energy at low frequency by
6 thin nanofibrous layer is in accordance with the Ozturk et al. [123]
alcohol nanofibrous
principle of membrane resonance

The incorporation of nanofiber layers into

7 nonwovens can improve both sound absorption and Rabbi et al. [135]
sound transmission loss

8 Aerogel filled Low weight aerogel embedded nanofiber materials Mazrouei-Sebdani et al.

polyester nanofiber are potential for acoustic absorption [133]


The fabricated three-dimensional nano fibrous

materials has better acoustic absorption than
9 nanoscale structured Chang et al. [136]
commercial sound-absorbing cotton in the low
fibrous material
frequency from 400 to 900 Hz

The sound absorption coefficients of the

Silica-cellulose hybrid
10 silica-cellulose aerogel with a 10 mm thickness was Feng et al. [134]
better than cellulose aerogel

Electrospun PVA/nano ZrC contributed to sound absorption properties at a

11 particle high frequency range while TiO2 contributed to low Gao et al. [137]

nanofiber membrane frequency range

The resonance frequency decreased with an increase

Polyvinyl alcohol
12 of the mass per unit area of the nanofibrous Kalinova et al. [138]
nanofibrous layer

Graphene oxide
The addition of graphene oxide into the spun
13 nanofibers can increases absorption coefficient in Qamoshi et al. [130]
the frequency of 1500 Hz

Electrospun The addition of carbon nanotubes into the

14 polyvinylidene membranes can increase acoustic absorption at low Wu and Chou [125]

fluoride membrane frequency

Electrospun The electrospun polyvinylidene

polyvinylidene fluoride/graphene nanofibrous membranes exhibit

15 Wu and Chou [124]
fluoride/graphene improved piezoelectricity, and shift sound

membrane absorption to the low-frequency region

This review has mainly summarized the acoustic absorption mechanism and basic
characteristics of various fibrous materials for noise reduction applications. It can be seen that

Delany-Bazley model was widely used for the prediction of acoustic absorption coefficient. Various
modified models were established to describe the acoustic characteristic of different fibrous materials.
Delany-Bazley based empirical model is closely related with air flow resistance, while
microstructural model involves porosity, tortuosity, flow resistivity, viscosity characteristic length
and thermal characteristic length. Microstructural model could predict the acoustic absorption
coefficient more accurately than empirical model, but it is limited due to the complex equations. In
addition, various fibrous materials for noise reduction have been gathered in this review. It can be
seen that a wide range of fibrous materials could be utilized as sound absorbers, including inorganic
and metallic fibers, synthetic fibers, natural fibers and nanofibers. A summary concerning the
advantages and disadvantages of different fibrous materials was listed in Table 6.

Table 6 Advantages and disadvantages of different kinds of fibrous materials in noise reduction

Materials Advantages Disadvantages

Good abrasion resistance, flame
Inorganic and metallic Poor flexibility, heavy weight,
retardant, long service life,
fibers poor formability
moisture resistance
Good recyclability, structural Poor anti-static ability, easy to
Synthetic fibers diversity, facile production deformation when it is heated, low
process air permeability
A wide range of raw materials, Poor flame retardancy, poor
Natural fibers
environmental-friendly, cheap moisture resistance
High production cost, low
Light weight, thin thickness, good
Nanofibrous membranes production efficiency, complicated
acoustic absorption
preparation process

7 Conclusions
In this review, we have gathered the recent advances concerning the reported models and
acoustic absorption mechanism of fibrous materials. Compared with the commonly used porous
acoustic absorption materials, fibrous assemblies have the advantages such as lightweight, good

formability and aesthetical appearance. The prediction for acoustic absorption properties is also an
interesting and gradually increased topic. Empirical methods could effectively predict the acoustic
absorption coefficient based on macroscopical geometry, while the microstructural models depend on
the microscopic characteristics. It can be seen from the reported theoretical works that air flow
resistance play an important role in the acoustic behavior of fibrous assemblies. The difference of
acoustic absorption coefficient could be explained by the air flow resistance according to the
above-mentioned models. Therefore, we should pay more attention to the air flow resistance
parameter when designing acoustic absorption materials.
The application of various fibrous materials in noise reduction has also been reviewed. Among
various fibers, inorganic fibers including glass wool, carbon fiber and basalt fiber have been utilized
in noise reduction over the past few decades. With the unique advantage such as flame retardant,
high temperature resistance and moisture resistance, metallic fibers were widely used in extreme
environment for sound absorption. Natural fibers including kapok, hemp, coir, kenaf, luffa and wool
are environmental-friendly and low production cost. Recently, the investigation on the acoustic
behavior of natural fibrous materials is gradually increasing. The morphology of synthetic fibers
could be artificially designed for better acoustic absorption, such as the fibers with irregular
cross-section. Natural/synthetic hybrid fiber assemblies have also promoted the development of
acoustic absorption materials with comprehensive advantage than single-component fibrous
materials. It should be particularly noted that nanofiber with high specific surface area exhibited
better acoustic behavior than conventional fibrous materials. However, the production cost of
nanofiber is expensive and the production efficiency is relatively low, which has limited the
promising applications.

Acknowledgment: This research was supported by the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central
Universities (CUSF-DH-D-2017001).


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Fig.1 (a) Schematic illustration of sintered fibrous metal with sound incidence; (b) Test samples of
sintered fibrous metal [43]. Copyright 2015, Elsevier.

Fig.2 The internal and cross-sectional structures of glass fiber felts [46]. Copyright 2015, Springer.

Fig.3 Innovative mineral fiber insulation panels for building [47]. Copyright 2016, Elsevier.

Fig.4 Fabrication of helical-shaped sound absorber coated with carbon fiber, and (b) helical-shaped
sound absorber samples made with the mulberry paper only (samples 1-4) and coated with carbon
fibers (samples 5-8) [49]. Copyright 2016, Elsevier.

Fig.5 (a)-(d) Glass fiber assemblies with different fiber diameters and filling shapes are filled into the
each unit cell of honeycomb sandwich panels; (e) and (f) Glass fiber assembly with air layers [50].
Copyright 2016, Elsevier.

Fig.6 Cross-sectional view of needle punched nonwoven fabric made from (a) 15 den round fiber, (b)
15 den 4DG fiber, and (c) 15 den trilobal fiber [59]. Copyright 2008, Sage Publications.

Fig.7 (a) The cubic cross-section of the PET/TPU/PU sandwich plank and (b) the optical image of
the PET/TPU/PU sandwich plank [69]. Copyright 2011, Sage Publications.

Fig.8 Composite nonwovens with (a) 0 o/0o, (b) 90o/90o, (c) 45 o/45 o and (d) 0 o/90 o plied orientations
of PP selvages and two layers of Kevlar/Nylon/low-melting PET nonwoven fabrics [70]. Copyright
2016, Sage Publications.

Fig.9 (a) Absorption coefficient of kenaf fiber with different bulk density and thickness; (b) acoustic
absorption of sheep wool with 4 cm and 6 cm thickness [19]. Copyright 2015, Elsevier.

Fig.10 Scanning electron microscope photographs of kapok fiber cross-section with large lumen
structure: (a) 1000 magnification; (b) 5000 magnification [87]. Copyright 2016, Sage Publications.

Fig.11 (a) and (b) Scanning electron micrographs of ramie fibers at different magnification; (c) and
(d) showing their cross-sectional features [89]. Copyright 2010, Elsevier.

Fig.12 Scanning electron micrographs of the surfaces of bagasse and oil palm fiber before and after
NaOH treatments: (a) untreated and (b) treated bagasse fiber; (c) untreated and (d) treated oil palm
fiber [90]. Copyright 2016, Sage Publications.

Fig.13 Morphology of (a) untreated and (b) treated oil palm empty fruit bunch fiber zein composites;
(c) cross section of zein/treated oil palm empty fruit bunch fiber composites, (d) hollow lumen
structure of oil palm empty fruit bunch fiber; surface of (e) untreated and (f) alkali treated oil palm
empty fruit bunch fiber [92]. Copyright 2016, Wiley.

Fig.14 Horizontal-vertical and chaotically distributed organization of ramie fabrics in composites,

and the hierarchical organization of fiber [89]. Copyright 2010, Elsevier.

Fig.15 (a) Sewing fabrication method and (b) unidirectional sisal fiber fabrics; (c) schematic
illustration of fabrication methods for laminated composites [93]. Copyright 2015, Elsevier.

Fig.16 (a) Acoustic nonwoven, and (b) electrospun polyvinylidene fluoride/graphene membrane
attached onto the acoustic nonwoven [124]; (c) thin nanofiber membranes and (d) thin polymeric
foils supported in frames [139]. (a) and (b) Copyright 2016, Elsevier; (c) and (d) Copyright 2012,
Hindawi Publishing Corporation.

Fig.17 (a)-(d) Three-dimensional nanofibrous networks with different geometric shapes, (e) the
experimentally measured sound absorption coefficients of three-dimensional nanofibrous networks
and the commercial sound-absorbing cotton [136]; (f) schematic illustration of aerogel production
and compounding with the polyester nanofibers [133]. (a)-(e) Copyright 2016, Elsevier; (f)
Copyright 2015, The Royal Society of Chemistry.