Engineers answering the call for quiet

A team of engineers in New Zealand has been tasked with developing a new type of noise-proof wall, something Australians in our capital cities would be more than willing to hear about.
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Engineers answering the call for quiet

A team of engineers in New Zealand has been tasked with developing a new type of noise-proof wall, something Australians in our capital cities would be more than willing to hear about.

The mechanical engineers at the University of Auckland's Acoustic Research Centre have been awarded almost a million dollars by the country's Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to work on the project as medium-density housing is expected to reach 30% of the NZ city's dwellings by 2050.

It's a timely call as we live in an age of technology and entertainment systems where noise from outside our own homes, which are in closer proximity these days, can seep in, affecting sleep, health and well-being.

The team's aim is to create a new type of partition material with the use of specific materials that will reduce sound travelling through a wall, but without taking up any more floor space. The engineering researchers, led by Dr Andrew Hall, have demonstrated in previous research that they can use internal mechanisms, known as acoustic metamaterials, to push back against noise vibration and disrupt sound waves travelling through walls.

Dr Hall said the team is focusing on cutting out low frequency noise as it travels through walls easier.

"A wall is vibrated much more easily at low frequencies where wavelengths can be more than three metres," he explained.

"Sometimes if feels like Sting is playing bass in your living room. I like Sting's bass playing, just not at 2am."

And he would know about music and acoustics - Dr Hall holds a Bachelor of Performance Saxaphone in addition to his Bachelor degree in Materials and Processing and PhD in Acoustic Engineering.

His engineering team is also investigating the use of Helmholtz resonators to improve the noise insulating properties of a wall.

"They respond much like when we blow over the top of a glass bottle, and absorb and reflect sound," Dr Hall said.

Dr Hall revealed their system is aiming to raise New Zealand's sound insulation standards to meet internationally recognised minimum performance that is outlined in overseas building codes.