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practIcal applIcatIoNs for coNstructIoN aNd the buIlt eNvIroNmeNt

Innovation & Research

Issue No. 92 IN thIs Issue

Buildings Building performance evaluation

Construction Process Assessing embodied energy

Energy Assessing embodied energy

Infrastructure Mapping the Underworld

Hydrometrics Remote control boat surveys

Mapping Mapping the Underworld

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Materials High strength long-span structures 4 Detecting delamination in FRP retrofits

Innovation, Research & Development ICE R&D Enabling Fund

Building performance evaluation

Reservoirs Remote control boat surveys

also at The science of silence

Noise is now no longer considered as just a nuisance. Across Europe, attention is turning to noise pollution and the detrimental impacts it has on the population. Noise is the most pervasive environmental pollutant and causes disruption, annoyance, stress, sleep disturbance, and other negative health impacts. In Europe, over 210 million people are exposed to road noise levels considered harmful; noise causes 50,000 fatal heart attacks every year and increases risk for 200,000 people; and esti- mates of the cost of noise pollution are more than £7–£10 billion pa in the UK, over €42bn in the EU. As a result, there has been a significant movement across the EU towards systematically managing noise.

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Structures High strength long-span structures 4 Detecting delamination in FRP retrofits

Repair Detecting delamination in FRP retrofits

Water Resources Trading Water

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upported by the Royal Academy of Engi- neering’s Enterprise Fellowship scheme, Dr. Daniel Elford and colleagues are util-

ising a new area of physics called Sonic Crys- tals to tackle this worldwide noise problem. The technology, which was conceived by Dr Elford and Dr Luke Chalmers whilst studying for their PhDs, offers significant benefits over conventional noise barriers:

• improved dB reduction by up to 200% in comparison with competing technology;

• dual functionality designs that provide acoustic performance and security fence functions;

• a smaller footprint that means valuable space is saved and in turn less groundworks can be required;

• that the sound is cancelled out rather than reflected back to the source like conventional “reflective” barriers; and

• that it exceeds current noise legislation re- quirements.

Traditional noise reduction barriers are solid structures but the solution from Loughborough’s Physics Department is made up of a series of acoustic components in a periodic row, similar to a fence but with spaces in between. By spacing the components in a regular pattern the offend- ing frequencies of sound can be blocked out. This blocking is achieved by matching the peaks in a sound wave to the spacing between the cylinders – the sound gets cancelled out. What makes this technology unique and so

special is the design of the acoustic compo- nents. A conventional sonic crystal is based on solid cylinders and the sound control is only determined by the spacing between each one. To block out the lower frequency noises, the spacing increases so your barrier gets big- ger, making it unfeasible. The Loughborough solution involves using patented scatterers and arrangements that introduce additional mechanisms to block out certain frequencies. Using this technique, even more sound fre-

Prototype Sonic Crystal based noise barrier developed at Loughborough University.

quencies can be blocked at a useable scale. A university spin out company – Sonobex

Ltd – will be formed in 2013 following five years of R&D at Loughborough University. Globally there are many emerging markets

for noise barriers which are heavily driven by leg- islation. Construction of noise barriers not only benefits the end user but also benefits acoustic specialists, architects, construction workers, manufacturers of barrier elements, contractors, installation companies and governments.

For further information please contact Dr. Daniel Elford, RAEng Enterprise Fellow, Loughborough University (E-mail:

Innovation & Research Focus Issue 92 february 2013 1 february 2013

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