Acoustic modules for adding value to wool and chitosan

In combination with chitosan, sheep’s wool can be shaped in new ways. This opens up new application possibilities in which wool from different sheep breeds and of different qualities can be used. This counteracts the problem that many regional sheep farmers are having difficulties selling the wool they produce or putting it to good use. They join together with companies from the region in the form of a cooperative. This makes it possible to process the wool into recyclable acoustic objects that can be made exclusively from wool and chitosan.
These acoustic objects are adaptable to individual needs in their arrangement and combination of colour. The system of rods and modules creates a woven-like appearance. The design refers to the fact that wool has always been processed into fabrics and is held in high esteem in this form.

video of Lara’s presentation
Lara Herrmann
project:full circle
examined bioplastic:
material expert support:

Dr. Jonas Finck

full concept text

In the regional context, sheep are mainly kept for landscape maintenance, milk and meat production or as a hobby. The wool of the sheep plays a minor role, since wool for the textile industry comes to a large extent from New Zealand or Australia. Despite this, large quantities of it occur, since the animals must be shorn annually. Since the sheep breeds kept are diverse, the wool also has different qualities. Furthermore, wool is a material that has very useful properties, such as acoustic and thermal insulation. Nevertheless, it is hardly possible for many sheep farmers to obtain adequate prices for the wool or to use it themselves.

To open up new possibilities of application for these wools, they can be combined with chitosan. Chitosan is a biobased and biodegradable polymer that can be produced from chitin, which occurs naturally in fungi or in the exoskeletons of crabs and insects, for example. Since regional companies that produce proteins from insects are developing, large quantities of the chitin-containing starting material are accumulating at this point.

The special layer-forming properties of chitosan can be exploited by wetting the wool with chitosan solution and keeping it in shape during the drying process. This gives the wool a durable, stable but flexible shape. Any wool quality can be used in this process. This opens up new areas of application beyond processing into fabrics. In this way, a great diversity of sheep breeds can be supported.

On a regional level, sheep farmers can enter into a cooperative with various companies. Insect farms to provide the chitin and processing companies as well as wool laundries and dye houses can be part of it. In this way, the farmers can be guaranteed a fair price and a fixed purchase of the wool. Insect farms and chitosan suppliers can develop their local structures and expand the areas of application for chitosan.

The cooperative produces high-quality acoustic modules from wool and chitosan. For this purpose, the shorn wool is washed in wool laundries, carded and then dyed. The wool is then wetted with chitosan and shaped by pressing. Finally, they can be purchased by customers. Through individual colour selection and independent arrangement of the modules and rods, the design of the acoustic object can be influenced. Furthermore, there is the option that the acoustic objects can be refurbished after a period of two years. For this purpose, the modules and rods can be pressed again with the addition of fresh chitosan. If reconditioning is no longer practical, the modules can be shredded and pressed into further modules with new fibres and chitosan.

The design of the acoustic objects refers to fabrics and textiles. The structure creates a fabric-like impression. This illustrates how important the use of wool has always been for the production of fabrics and the high esteem in which it is held. Wool, which today is an unloved by-product, is placed in a new context and its material, functional and ideal value is made clear.