Coir wall panels to help insulate and sound-proof homes

Alappuzha, Feb 5: A 3-D coir-based panelling system that absorbs sound and heat could offer a superior, low-cost and organic alternative to synthetic acoustic design products in homes, offices and theatres.

The 3-D coir wall panels, fashioned by a private engineering group, are among the many innovations on display at Coir Kerala 2016.

Taking advantage of coir’s natural sound- and heat-absorbing properties, they are tailor made for homes in hot and humid climes and spaces where sound is at a premium like cinema halls and recording studios. Also, the panels are not just pleasing to look at, they are practical too.

“The pores in coir allow it to absorb 50 per cent of sound and heat, offering a viable method to soundproof and insulate rooms. This allows it to be used for wall panelling instead of plastic, wood or tiles,” said Prem Kiran, who mans the 2M Engineers Group stall in the International pavilion at the EMS stadium here. “It looks very natural as well – even as false ceilings.”

The panel begins as a sheet made of coir felt, which when formed to specification is sprayed on with phenolic resin – lending the product its fire-resistant and water phobic properties. This sheet, once dried, is pressed using a 100-tonne hot press at a temperature of 120 degree Celsius and moulded into any shape and size the customer requires.

“The complete material is coir. This is a natural product made entirely out of coconut fibre. It is the only option available to people who want an organic product,” Kiran said. “You cannot mould wood and plastic is non-biodegradable.”

Being lightweight – each 1.5 x 1.5 feet sheet of six pieces weighs about 300 gms, the panel is easy to install and remove. This allows it to be carried or hung wherever the customer chooses.

“It just needs to be hammered onto a plywood backing with the size of the wall panel depending on the customer’s requirements. It will maintain shape at room temperature, in cold weather and even after a wash with water.”

Besides coming in any design the customer specified, it has the added benefit of being hardy enough to resist termites and pests.

“This is the sort of product that has tremendous applicability to Kerala’s homes. Being waterproof, it can be cleaned regularly while keeping homes dry during our monsoon season,” said Mrs Rani George, Secretary, Coir Development, Government of Kerala.

“Coir Kerala exists to showcase and help market such innovations as well as provide an incentive to our engineers and designers to fashion bold, new, sustainable products using our natural coir resource,” she added. With attractive pricing, the product has received interest from overseas.

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