Six Wageningen master’s students have developed a soundproofing material from pig manure. They hope it will win them the Biobased Innovation Student Challenge Europe (BISC-E) in Berlin on 24 October.
It started with the problem definition, says Greek master’s student Stamatis Chrysanthopoulos. ‘People residing near airports have a greater chance of having a heart attack. Noise can make people sick.’ To prevent this, new and existing homes and offices in the vicinity of airports need to be better insulated from noise. The Wageningen student team BioSilence searched for organic materials that could be used for soundproofing.
The students eventually went with manure. ‘In manure processing plants, nitrogen and phosphate are recovered from manure’, says co-developer Bas Roovers. ‘What remains are fibres. These are currently burned or used as soil enrichment, but one could also compress and dry the fibres, thus killing the microorganisms and eliminating the odour of manure. And this material can be used for soundproofing.’ The students first experimented with the material in the laboratory, then they wrapped the fibres in a piece of stone wool. They will show this prototype during the BISC-E final in Berlin.
‘Our insulation material is much more sustainable than conventional stone wool’, says Chrysanthopoulos, ‘as the production of stone wool requires a lot of energy and causes high greenhouse and nitrogen emissions.’ BioSilence’s ultimate goal is to completely replace stone wool with their product. That will not be an easy task in the conservative construction world, the Dutch jury said a few months ago, but the Wageningen students did win the Dutch preliminary round of BISC-E.
BioSilence is a very international team. Besides Chrysanthopoulos and Roovers, the team consists of two Italians, one Mexican and one Colombian. They are supervised by Costas Nikiforidis, researcher at Biobased Chemistry and Technology, and Martien van den Oever, researcher at Wageningen Food & Biobased Research.