A new noice-cancelling material made out of plastic sheets is set to be trialled in hospitals and on motorways in the UK.
The plastic panels have the same noise-reduction effect as two inches of plywood but weigh as much as six times less.
Metasonixx, the company behind the Sonoblind panels, is an offshoot from the Universities of Sussex and Bristol.
The company was founded by Dr Gianluca Memoli, from the School of Engineering of Informatics of the University of Sussex, and Prof Bruce Drinkwater of Bristol University.
Commenting on the development, Memoli said: “Our panels are much lighter than traditional solutions for noise abatement and, if required, can even let air and light through.
“Some of the panels can be used as grilles to silence air conditioning units and extractor fans or as part of blinds, to keep the noise out while the window stays open.”
Use in hospitals
Trials will soon start in UK hospitals to see how effective the panels are in reducing noise on busy wards.
A 2020 study conducted at St George’s hospital in London attributes unwanted noise mostly to medical equipment, such as ventilators, and their alarms.
A study published in the British Medical Journal reported that 40% of hospital patients are bothered by noise at night, with levels regularly exceeding international recommendations.
Excessive noise has been linked to hospitalisation-induced stress, delayed recovery, high blood pressure, and poor mental health.
For staff, it can cause stress and poor performance.
Use on motorways
Metasonixx is set to start working with Movyon, the centre for research and innovation within the Autostrade per l’Italia Group.
The project will look at using metamaterial panels externally to create quiet areas for drivers in outdoor settings.
The company has just recently awarded the Armourers & Brasiers Venture Prize, which comes with £25,000 investment.
Memoli added: “We intend to use the Venture Prize money to manufacture panels, to be used in trials in hospitals and offices across the UK.
“Our designs take inspiration from devices that shape light – like lenses, holograms and LCD displays.
“Metasonixx’s technology, based on acoustic metamaterials, can be the ultimate defence against noise at home or in open offices.”
Image: Chris Allen/Geograph
Read next: Hitachi Zosen Inova to build £250m energy-from-waste incinerator near Leeds