DESCRIPTION OF THE PROJECT:
Grant Agreement Number: 874481
Financial Institution: European Research Council - European Commission.
Starting time: 01/11/2019
Ending time: 30/04/2021
Budget: 150.000 €
DESCRIPTION OF THE IDEA:
The METACOUSTIC project aims at designing prototyping and testing (by using the computational modeling and design techniques arisen from the pre-existing ERC Advanced grant COMP-DES-MAT), Locally Resonant Acoustic Metamaterial (LRAM) products: i.e. panels and liners for tailored insulation of ambient noise, to be commercialized for their use in building construction, civil engineering, transportation, and other industrial and social environments.
The highly innovative solution that METACOUSTIC offers to the market for the first time is a breakthrough service that allows us to provide bespoke soundproofing solutions that meet and exceed the specific soundproofing requirements of customers, with a particular focus on being able to identify and supress the exact and unique noise spectrum signature that needs to be attenuated. The solution that the METACOUSTIC PoC will develop exploits the locally resonant properties of artificially designed microstructures. A locally resonant acoustic metamaterial (LRAM) is able to cancel or attenuate incident sound waves with frequencies close to its natural frequencies, which emerge from its internal structure or topology. Low frequencies can be effectively cancelled by LRAM materials, as opposed to other acoustic metamaterials based on Bragg-scattering phenomena, which hinges on wave refraction through heterogeneous (typically multi-layered) materials and are not suitable for wavelengths far larger than the characteristic size of the microstructure. Coupling computational homogenization techniques accounting for inertial effects with topological material design strategies, accomplished in the ERC Advanced Grant COMP-DES-MAT (ERC- 2012-AdG 320815), it is possible to devise the microstructure of such acoustic metamaterials able to attenuate a targeted frequency band. METACOUSTIC will offer tools for designing and proofing accurately customised and manufacturable LRAM products, which are more robust and efficient than currently available solutions. These typically resort to either simplified mathematical models, often based on intuition and experimental evidences, or overly complex computational procedures that are very time-consuming and, in most cases, still uncapable of providing practical optimized solutions.
Frequency-tailored LRAM acoustic attenuation panels and liners have not yet been successfully commercialised. Although some LRAM prototypes have been made, a systematic multiscale computational design and its manufacturing process has not been successfully developed for commercial applications. In fact, current available products for noise attenuation are based on assemblies of well-known natural materials such as foams, fiber-glass, rubbers, fabrics and the use of architectural soundproofing affecting the building structure such as floating floors or soundproof walls. If we were to continue along this line of development, we would not make the disruptive innovation that is needed to push this sector to a new level of performance.
Reducing the conscious displeasure of those exposed to the noise. In the longer term, this project will contribute to a revolution in acoustic attenuation and the control of noise impacts in public and private social spaces. We expect, for example, to be able to design and build highly sound-attenuated houses using advanced materials. METACOUSTIC will contribute to reducing annoyance in the following specific fields:
● Comfort in public transportation (aircraft, trains), isolating from self-produced external noise.
● Comfort in houses and apartments by isolating them from a) internal noise (neighbour noise, TV, music, footsteps and b) external noises (road traffic noise, airports, noisy surrounding areas).
● Sleep disturbance, which in particular is recognized as an acute problem that needs innovative solutions.
● School attainment is recognized as having some link to noise pollution level.
● METACOUSTIC will contribute to reducing the costs of noise to both the public and private sectors. Costs have been put on the effects of noise. In 2010, for example, one study found that the monetary equivalent of relatively severe noise pollution would be on average €146 per month per household i.e., willingness to pay (WTP) for noise elimination. A 2013 study of aircraft noise found a WTP of between €107 and €718 depending on aircraft size. These data easily justify significant investment in abatement policies and infrastructure and provides a vast potential market for advanced technologies, such as ours to exploit. A recent UE country government assessment, for example, puts the social cost of urban road noise annually as between €7 to 10 billion, which places it at a similar magnitude to road accidents (€9 billion) and significantly greater than the impact of climate change (€1 to 4 billion). Therefore, if METACOUSTIC were to contribute a one percent reduction in this impact (this is currently unexploited business opportunity, and we consider this to be a realistic attainment after ten years of business) this would have a social cost impact of up to one hundred million €, only in road noise, and only in one EU country – the economic benefits of small improvements in this field are vast.
● In the longer term, use of additive manufacturing techniques in acoustic attenuation products, will produce significant cost reductions over current sound attenuation solutions.
● Improved health in urban areas will have economic as well as social benefits as the burden on the health services is reduced and the health costs of noise is cut.
● Noise has a negative effect on productivity through distraction, fatigue and interrupting communication.