Meringue-like material could make plane as quiet as a hair dryer


Professor Michele Meo with light airgel suspended in a honeycomb structure

University of Bath

A new, incredibly lightweight material that can reduce aircraft engine noise and improve passenger comfort has been developed at the University of Bath.

Graphene Oxide Polyvinyl Alcohol Airgel weighs just 2.1 kg per cubic meter, making it the lightest sound insulation ever made. It could be used as an insulator in aircraft engines to reduce noise by up to 16 decibels, reducing the 105 decibel roar of a jet engine on take off to sound closer to that of a hair dryer. .

The airgel’s meringue-like structure makes it extremely light, meaning it could serve as an insulation in aircraft engine nacelles, with almost no increase in overall weight. The material is currently being optimized by the research team to provide improved heat dissipation, providing energy efficiency and safety benefits.

Researchers at the Bath Materials and Structures Center (MAST) published a method of making the materials in the journal Nature Scientific reports.

Professor Michele Meo, who led the research, said: “It is clearly a very interesting material that could be applied in a number of ways, initially in aerospace but potentially in many other fields such as automotive and construction. maritime transport, as well as in and construction site.

“We have succeeded in producing an extremely low density using a liquid combination of graphene oxide and a polymer, which are formed with whipped air bubbles and lyophilized. At a very basic level, the technique can be compared when whipping egg whites create meringues – it’s solid but contains a lot of air, so there is no penalty in weight or efficiency to achieve big improvements in comfort and noise. “

While the team’s initial goal is to work with aerospace partners to test the material as sound insulation in aircraft engines, they say it could be used to create panels as well. in helicopters or car engines. They estimate that the airgel could be used within 18 months.

– This press release was originally posted on the University of Bath website


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