Acoustical Exploitation of Rough, Mixed Impedance and Porous Surfaces Outdoors

Bashir, Imran (2014). Acoustical Exploitation of Rough, Mixed Impedance and Porous Surfaces Outdoors. PhD thesis The Open University.



This thesis is a contribution towards developing cost-effective ways for reducing outdoor traffic noise in outdoor environments by exploiting the interaction between sound travelling directly to a listener from the source and sound reflected by the intervening ground.

Sound propagation over different kinds of porous, rough and mixed impedance ground surfaces have been studied experimentally and numerically. Measurements of short-range acoustic level difference spectra over outdoor ground surfaces and artificially-created surfaces outdoors and in the laboratory have been compared with predictions to establish suitable impedance models. Sound propagation over mixed impedance ground having single or multiple impedance discontinuities has also been studied. Acoustic transmission loss through vegetation, crops and hedges has been investigated.

The phenomenon of sound diffraction and periodicity due to rough periodic ground surfaces has been explored through artificially created rough surfaces in the laboratory and outdoors. The phenomenon of surface wave propagation over rough hard surfaces and porous surfaces has been explored through laboratory experiments.

Measured data indoors and outdoors have been used to validate numerical (BEM and FEM), empirical and analytical (MST) prediction techniques. The validated numerical methods have been used to make predictions at scales suitable for attenuating traffic noise by means of carefully designed ground treatments. The work has also been extended to railway and tramway noise.

It has been found that replacing hard ground with porous ground, introducing single or multiple impedance discontinuities, growing vegetation and introducing low height roughness can all contribute between 3 and 15 dB additional attenuation of traffic noise. In respect of replacing hard ground by porous ground, it is concluded that the ground with lowest flow resistivity i.e. grassland left untouched and allowed to grow wild gives the best attenuation performance. However, dividing a single width of soft ground into alternating strips of hard and soft surfaces does not improve the insertion loss. The overall width of the soft surface is the main factor. Cultivating crops over porous ground can enhance the attenuation but the effect is not very significant for A-weighted levels as most of additional attenuation occurs at higher frequencies above 3 kHz.

A 0.3 m high and at least 3 m wide lattice structure design is found to be very useful for traffic noise attenuation since it offers greater insertion loss than the same width and height of parallel low walls and the resulting attenuation is azimuthal angle independent. It has been shown also that the potentially negative effect on insertion loss due to propagation of roughness-induced surface waves over rough surfaces can be reduced by introducing sound absorbing material in between the walls.

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