New coir acoustic panels offer sustainable design alternative

‘Accoir’ developed by NCRMI and IIID unveiled at Coir Kerala 2015

Researchers in India have developed a coir-based sound paneling system that could offer a superior, low-cost, organic alternative to synthetic acoustic design products currently used in construction, architecture and engineering.

‘Accoir’ has been developed by the Thiruvanathapuram-based National Coir Research & Management Institute (NCRMI) in partnership with the Institute of Indian Interior Designers (IIID) with R&D inputs from several other leading institutes.

The product was unveiled by  Mr. Oommen Chandy, Chief Minister of Kerala recently at the five-day Coir Kerala international expo on coir and natural fibre products in Alappuzha.

Accoir, which comes in the form of ceiling and wall tiles, is the result of two years of research to build a high-quality, marketable product that leverages the well-known sound absorption properties of coir, a natural fibre obtained from coconut.

“Acoustic panels used for interior decoration and as sound barriers constitute a very niche market. Introducing an organic product in this segment, especially one derived from as sustainable a material as coir, could be a very successful move commercially,” said Mr. Adoor Prakash, Minister for Revenue and Coir, Govt of Kerala . “Accoir is an exciting new product and innovations of this kind invigorate the sector.”

NCRMI Director Mr. K R Anil said to the main challenge for researchers was not just to enhance the acoustic properties of coir, but overcome its natural limitations such as coarseness of texture and flammability.

“Commercially viable acoustic panels need to be fire retardant, easy to install and clean, durable and aesthetically pleasing. With Accoir, we have not just managed to achieve all of these but have created a product that matches and even betters the properties of the best available products globally,” he said.

For example, the leading acoustic products in the market today have a Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC) - a sound absorption rating - of around 0.5 to 0.6. (NRC is measured on a scale of 0 to 1 with the latter indicating perfect absorption.)

Accoir, when tested, returned values as high as 0.7 to 0.8. “Our aim was to at least match the best rated products; but we were delighted to find that our organic material turned out to be superior to any other product currently in the market,” Mr. K R Anil said.

NCRMI has filed for a patent and will soon look at production and marketing partners to commercially launch Accoir.

Accoir comes as 25mm thick paneling system for the ceiling and a 40 mm wall cladding system. It is ideal for theatres, conference venues, conference halls, homes and any space that requires good sound modulation.

The design inputs of IIID, which worked closely with the Pune-based Automotive Research Association of India and the National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology (NIIST) for research and testing, were critical in ensuring that the end product had a world-class design and matched global standards in the building industry.

Although the price point of the new coir panels has not been fixed yet, Mr. Anil said Accoir will definitely cost on a par or less than the materials currently in the market.

Accoir, which will be showcased at a special stall set up at Coir Kerala 2015 by the NCRMI, which is also the coordinating agency for the event.

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