The basic mechanism of noise absorptive material is to change the acoustic energy into heat energy. The amount of heat generated is normally very small due to the limited energy in sound waves (e.g. less than 0.01watts). The two common ways for energy transformation are:
(i) Viscous flow loss
The absorptive material contains interconnected voids and pores into which the sound energy will propagate. As sound waves pass through the material, the wave energy causes relative motion between the air particles and the absorbing material and consequently energy losses are incurred.
(ii) Internal fiction
The absorptive materials have some elastic fibrous or porous structures which would be extended and compressed during sound wave propagation. Other than energy loss due to viscous flow loss, dissipation of energy also results from the internal friction during its flex and squeezing movement.
This question is taken from book named – A Self Learning Manual – Mastering Different Fields of Civil Engineering Works (VC-Q-A-Method) by Vincent T. H. CHU.