Drawing a veil over noise pollution

To banish noisy neighbours or cordon off a `quiet’ zone at home or in the factory, an innovation from the Georgia Institute of Technology could be just what you need.

The `Quiet Curtain’ – developed by Dr Krishan Ahuja of the acoustics and aerodynamics department – stems from an effort to battle nocturnal noise in nursing homes.

In this effective design, sheets of noise shielding material are sandwiched between two pieces of fabric and supported by a pocket system. Its simplicity means that a variety of materials can be used. For industrial applications rugged materials can be substituted for the aesthetically pleasing patterns appropriate for domestic uses. And, depending upon the noise levels, different types of material can also be used for the shielding layer.

In initial tests, a prototype reduced noise levels by around 12dB. Bearing in mind that decibels are logarithmic units rather than linear, this is a considerable reduction: it roughly equates to a reduction of sound intensity by a factor of 16.