Scientists Create Jet Engine-Quieting Sponges

Dammit science. For all the good you do, you can be a real Debbie Downer sometimes. We like it when you cure diseases and invent awesome new materials like silicene, but when you take away the mighty roar of a jet fighter, that's when you've gone too far.

Specifically to blame is a mechanical engineering professor at the University of Alabama, Dr Ajay K Agrawal, who was recently awarded a patent for a new foam-like material that promises to dramatically reduce the deafening roar of a jet engine. Researchers have known how to quiet an engine for some time, but it required a special material that could withstand the heat and pressure from flying at high altitudes, which is exactly what Dr Agrawal and his colleagues have discovered.

Composed of hafnium carbide and silicon carbide, the porous material is actually placed directly into a jet engine's flame where it "absorbs" and cuts down on the noise without affecting the combustion reaction.

In fact, it turns out that tackling the problem at the source of the noise is actually cheaper than trying to mask it at the point of exhaust, which requires extra hardware resulting in a heavier engine. And less noise means there's less vibrations and wear and tear on an engine when its running, which reduces maintenance costs and increases its lifecycle. So it's not surprising that Dr Agrawal's work was funded by the US Navy who operates a small air force of its own, and should be embraced by every aircraft maker in the world if the material lives up to its potential. [The University of Alabama via Gizmag]

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