iKoustic Research and Development Partnership (KTP)
Hello there! My name is Gabriel and I am working as an Acoustic Innovation Engineer through a Knowledge Transfer Partnership – or KTP. This blog will involve regular updates on the progress of the project to engage stakeholders and demonstrate how the work that I complete will be important in the creation of a new product development process at the company. At iKoustic, we look to provide the best performing soundproofing solutions possible, but the work outlined in this blog over the coming months and years may be particularly relevant to those with a distinct appetite for research and development within acoustics and sound proofing.
I have a bachelor’s degree in music and play the cello and piano, which led to my initial interest in retraining as an acoustician. Throughout my time playing in orchestras and performing solo, my cello created effects that I was unable to explain and made me question the nature of the sounds I was making. To satisfy my curious nature, I found a way to work within the scientific sphere of music whilst still appealing to the artistic side of my nature by completing an MSc at the University of Salford in Audio Acoustics, where fortunately enough I was able to learn under some of the best acousticians in the world. Leading to an understanding of the science behind sound has been fascinating, and I can now apply this knowledge (and continue my learning) to developing cutting edge soundproof materials and partitions.
What is the KTP?
I have been brought on board to complete the KTP project in conjunction with the University of Salford. The KTP is a 31-month project, with input from both academics at the university and from my colleagues at iKoustic. The aim of the project is to embed a unique research and development process at the company. This involves the development of a software prediction model to enable virtual acoustic prototyping. In addition to this, I will be designing and building a test rig to validate the results discovered in the software. This is not an easy task due to the complex interactions between the complex elements comprising a soundproofing system, but my academic supervisors are highly regarded in the acoustics field so have a wealth of experience to guide the project. Their help will be invaluable in the future, as will the input of my colleagues because the creation of new products will require ideas from all sorts of inquisitive minds.
Introducing the University of Salford
The KTP project is split into stages, each building upon existing knowledge and processes improving methods and materials along the way. Stage two involves creating an innovative acoustic component database – this work will be carried out at Salford University, utilising the facilities at their renowned acoustic research centre. In addition to the partnership with the researchers, the ability to use the University facilities will be incredibly valuable as Salford have a laboratory used for UKAS accredited tests on materials. Having access to these facilities means that testing can be completed to UKAS and BS EN ISO standards, giving truly reliable results. The two main facilities available for use are the anechoic chamber and the transmission suite. The anechoic chamber at the University is one of the quietest rooms in the world. The benefit of having such an acoustically dead space means that measurements can be taken without interference being picked up on the microphones from wall reflections, which would give results less representative of other spaces. In addition to the chamber, the transmission suite was built to match the specifications outlined in the British Standards for laboratory measurement. There are two rooms, one a source room and the other a receiver room, with an aperture dividing the two where a sound insulating system is built up. The level difference between the decibels in the source room compared to the receiving room is used to describe the sound reduction index of the product under experiment. Other measurement tools available include impedance tubes, tapping machines, and accelerometers. This means that the determination of each components inherent properties will be possible.
Understanding the Structural and Acoustical Properties of iKoustic Products
iKoustic sells products related to the reduction of sound through the application of soundproof partitions; floors, walls and ceilings, as well as providing products for the treatment of noise, echo and reverberation within a space. This means the products we supply are designed to provide the best reduction possible for airborne and impact sound issues as well as conforming to building requirements. There are many products in the market which treat sound in different ways, so the first task is to understand how these operate scientifically, before quantifying their properties. Creating the database of properties will allow me to utilise these to create an accurate prediction model. The database will include structural dynamic properties such as Young’s modulus, structural impedance and damping loss factor. Also included are acoustic properties such as flow resistivity, porosity, and wavenumber. Once discovered, the properties can be input into a virtual assembly model, successful implementation of virtual prototyping will lead to an optimised system and the best acoustic results.
Bespoke Test Rig Design
The facilities at Salford University are important for the testing of products and creating a database of acoustic properties and to aid in the design of the in house test rig. In a similar fashion to the reverberation rooms, the test rig will ideally conform to requirements outlined in British and ISO Standards, meaning results can be repeatable and comparable. Therefore, measurements and dimensions of the reverberation rooms will be taken with a view to utilising them later in the project. I don’t want to give away too many of the ideas for the test rig this early on in the project, but the initial ideas for the test rig involve modal testing of built up insulating systems to determine how to effectively reduce sound transmissibility and optimise the performance of our products.
This concludes the first part of my blog documenting the journey of the KTP – I hope you are as excited as me to continue this journey into the creation of quieter spaces, together!