An Experimental Study of Dry Onion Skins as Renewable Materials for Interior Finishes and their Impact on Indoor Environment

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The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
The interior and exterior materials of the building have major effects on the environment. Interior designers can absolutely make our environment green and sustainable by responsibly selecting and approving the interior materials which will be used during the construction like the floor and wall materials, fabrics, furnishings, and lighting systems. Utilization of green sustainable principles in the design works will greatly minimize the release of carbon footprints. This research study aimed to explore the natural materials, which have potentials to be used in the interior finishing and spaces. This can be a replacement for the existing synthetic materials that may contribute pollutants to the indoor air and at the same time affect the comfort and health of the occupants. This study will also explore the relationship between the interior natural materials used in buildings and the human comfort, and it will focus specifically on the effects of these materials on the human comfort levels as there are many factors influenced by the interior natural materials leading to negative effects. Finally, it will identify the environmental impacts of the interior natural materials in hand by determining the emotions of VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) and other harmful gases (e.g. Ozone, Carbon Monoxide, Carbon Dioxide), and indoor conditions, i.e. Relative Humidity and Temperature. In this research study, mixed-method technique was used in order to allow the researcher to collect more evidence to analyze a research problem that neither a qualitative nor quantitative method alone could deliver. The research study used an instrument, which monitors the indoor air quality indicators, called Direct Sense – IAQ. This instrument was used to measure the concentration levels of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) on three customized specimens, (30 x 30 x 1) cm^3 boards of MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard), layered on one side with three different materials (Formica layer and wood veneer layer) both glued with chemical adhesive, and (onion’s dry skin layer) glued with eco-friendly adhesive. An experimental study was conducted over three days in the Fab Lab in the engineering college at Ajman University of Science and Technology (AUST) in Ajman. The lab’s temperature was set at 21°c and Relative Humidity 45%. A small chamber borrowed from the British University in Dubai (BUiD) was used, in which the three specimens were placed to be further tested. The chamber was made of 6mm clear glass and supported by 4.5cm aluminum frames, which hermetically sealed the chamber from the edges, with dimensions of 60cm (L) x 60cm (W) x 60cm (H) = 0.216〖 m〗^3 . Another experimental study was conducted in the media lab at (AUST) to test and measure the ability of the onion skin board of sound absorption and insulation. The research study utilized a Sound Level Meter called PYLE PSPL01, in order to measure the ability of a (30 x 30 x 1) cm^3 panel fully made of dry onion’s skin bonded with PVA adhesive to insulate the sound when used as a partition that separates two spaces. For the sound absorption experimental test, two mock up boxes measured of (30 x 30 x 30)〖 cm〗^3 were fabricated, the first one was fully lined with (1 x 30 x 30) cm^3 onion skin panels pressed and bonded with an eco-friendly adhesive, and the second one was lined with (1 x 30 x 30) cm^3 of Rockwool panels. While for the sound insulation experimental test, a mock up box measured (30 x 30 x 60) cm^3 was fully lined with 1 cm Rockwool rolls or panels. This box was divided into two equal parts; once by the panel of onion’s dry skin and the other time by the panel of Rockwool in order to measure the sound insulation properties for both materials, and later to make a comparison between them. Findings showed that the onion’s dry skin has a good performance in layering MDF surfaces as a replacement of wood veneer or Formica in some places. It has also good acoustic performance and is comparable against that from the conventional synthetic absorber.
renewable materials, indoor environment, human comfort