Dr Maryam Naebe, Senior Research Fellow, Deakin University, Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM), Victoria, Australia has won the 2021 Discover Natural Fibres Initiative Innovation Award. Dr Naebe and her team at IFM created a special light-weight nonwoven textile fabric that can be used as an insulator in automobiles. The fabric is made from a blend of virgin and waste wool fibres.
Most insulation currently used in automotive applications is made from petroleum-based polyester, polyethylene, and polystyrene molecules, but leading car manufacturers are moving towards replacing interior materials with lighter-weight and biodegradable natural fibre options. Wool insulation exhibits the same sound absorption, thermal resistance, and air permeability performance characteristics of materials currently in use. In addition, wool is naturally odourresistant, flame retardant and antibacterial.
Dr Naebe noted that as a natural fibre, wool has a unique chemical and physical structure that gives it inherent thermal and acoustic insulation properties, making it a very promising candidate for sustainable insulation.