The noise created by an airplane engine is very high, as anyone who has ever flown knows. When it comes to sound levels, a chain saw comes in at 110 decibels, the average human voice at 30 decibels, and a volcano that erupted in Indonesia which produced what scientists believe to be the loudest sound ever on the planet, was estimated at 310 decibels. At 115 decibels, health officials say, the human ear will experience pain and permanent hearing damage will start to occur.

If you were to stand near an airplane engine at take-off, the sound you will hear will register at about 140 decibels. That’s why this new polymer material and its application in the aerospace industry has so much potential. Researchers have developed a new aerogel made from a polymer and graphene oxide that can be used to insulate an airplane engine and greatly reduce noise. In fact, it can reduce the roar of an engine to just 90 decibels, which is approximately the same amount of noise created by a blender.

Additionally, the material is extremely low density making it very light-weight. At 2.1kg per cubic meter, it is the lightest sound insulation material ever made. This makes it especially appropriate for the aerospace industry due to the need to keep overall weight of an aircraft as low as possible. The aerogel was created by whipping liquid graphene oxide and a polymer to form air bubbles, and then frozen to create unique microstructural features.

Currently, the research team is focusing on the aerospace industry; however, the material can provide many benefits in automotive and construction, as well as other industries. Further exploration could reveal benefits in heat dissipation which would assist with fuel efficiency.

The Polymers Technology Center assists companies with their plastic compounding needs. We can help in the development and production of custom polymers in lab and pilot scale, as well as truck loads. Contact us to learn more about our capabilities.