Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search


Engineering a new type of wall


Engineering a new type of wall, and then we can all get some sleep

Researchers at the University of Auckland have been awarded close to $1 million to develop a new type of wall, to better shut out the unwanted sounds of the people next door.

This is timely. We’re living in an age of increasingly powerful entertainment systems and often forced to listen to other people’s music, televisions etcetera, which can affect our health and well-being.

Moreover, the acoustic intrusion of our neighbour’s is more likely in medium-density housing, which is projected to constitute 30 percent of Auckland’s housing by 2050.

The team of mechanical engineers at the Faculty of Engineering’s Acoustic Research Centre, awarded $991,000 from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), is taking an innovative approach to noise insulation.

They aim to create a new kind of partition material in which they, with the use of specific materials, will reduce the capacity of a wall to vibrate in response to sound, thereby providing better sound insulation, but without taking up more floor space.

They are particularly focussed on cutting out low frequency noise, which travels more easily through walls – other people’s bass beats, for instance, which can be intrusive and impossible to ignore.

“Sometimes it feels like Sting is playing his bass in your living room,” says Dr Andrew Hall, who is leading the research, adding that he likes Sting’s bass playing “just not at 2am”.

A wall is vibrated much more easily at low frequencies, where wavelengths can be more than three metres, Dr Hall explains. “It’s like a giant hand pushing on the wall.”

Achieving effective noise insulation against low frequency sound is both challenging and expensive, and usually involves increasing the density, mass or thickness of the partition material.

However he, co-researcher Dr George Dodd and their team have shown through previous research that they can use internal mechanisms, known as acoustic metamaterials, which can push back against that vibration, and disrupt the sound waves traveling through the walls.

They are 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 so absorb and reflect sound,” says Dr Hall. Using 3D printing of soft and hard materials, the researchers will explore the many possibilities in the design of these Helmholtz resonators and acoustic metamaterials.

We need and can find technological solutions to protect us from other people’s noises, says Dr Hall. “Despite people decrying the poor quality of multi-family housing in lower socio-economic sectors, there’s little evidence of research groups seeking solutions in the innovative way that we are proposing.”

“Our system aims to raise NZ’s sound insulation standards to meet the internationally recognised minimum performance expressed in overseas building codes. More and more people are living in urban settings in close proximity to others, and tackling noise pollution will have enormous benefits for their health and well-being.”


© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Reserve Bank: Official Cash Rate Unchanged At 1 Percent

The Monetary Policy Committee has decided to keep the Official Cash Rate (OCR) at 1.0 percent. Employment remains around its maximum sustainable level while inflation remains below the 2 percent target mid-point but within our target range... More>>


Food Prices: Avocados At Lowest Price In Almost Three Years

Avocados are at their cheapest average price since February 2017, with tomato, lettuce, and cucumber prices also falling, Stats NZ said today. More>>

Auckland Port Move: Cabinet Ministers Deliberate On Report

Cabinet ministers now have a copy of a report urging the government to move the Auckland port up north, but say no final decisions have been made. More>>


Toxicology Tests Planned: Dead Rats Washed Up On Beaches

As many as 600 rats washed up on Westport's North Beach over the weekend to the horror of locals. DOC said they may have been killed by a recent 1080 poison drop 140km away and washed down the Buller River after heavy rain battered the coast. More>>