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Working to minimise aircraft noise

The Institute of Sound and Vibration Research (ISVR) at the University of Southampton – a facility housed on campus in the Rolls Royce University Technology Centre in Gas Turbine Noise – now contains an anechoic chamber in which detailed measurement and analysis of the noise emission from Rolls Royce aero engine components is being undertaken. The results will help researchers understand how and why these components generate noise with the ultimate aim of developing noise reduction technologies.

The research requires the noise from the component to be measured from all directions. This is achieved in part by parallel, driven HepcoMotion linear motion systems that move a semi-circular gantry system carrying a microphone array to given positions in the chamber. “The main benefit of this traversable microphone array is that we need fewer microphones to make the test comprehensive,” explains project researcher Dr Chris Lowis. “We can also move the array to many different positions automatically without any manual intervention.” The design also maximises the number of measurements that can be taken using a given amount of compressed air. This is piped in to the chamber and fed through the component under test.

The linear motion system designed for this project combines the talents of HepcoMotion and SmartDrive and was delivered fully synchronised. The package included a control system and custom-written software to drive the array. This allows a linear position to be specified or chosen from a list of pre-sets. “All we have to do is click a button to move the array or return it to its home position,” Lowis continues. “There’s also the possibility of fully automating this movement in the future, for example, to move and arrest the array at a series of pre-determined positions.”

Lowis advises that in acoustics positional accuracy becomes more important as frequency increases. Although the full potential of the HepcoMotion system in this regard is not currently being explored, its published repositioning accuracy of +/-0.5mm will certainly come into its own in the future.

The HepcoMotion system specified for this new anechoic chamber was similar to a larger one the company installed in another laboratory at the ISVR. This experience stood HepcoMotion in good stead for this new project enabling it to make intelligent design recommendations. It also provided 3D CAD models of the chosen system to ISVR’s appointed design company so that it could be integrated with other hardware.

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