WSU wins $750,000 NASA grant to reduce aircraft noise


Wichita State University will lead a research effort with the University of Kansas, Kansas State University and three industry partners to develop a next-generation acoustic liner for aircraft engines in order to reduce impacts from aircraft noise and expand where planes may fly.

Bhisham Sharma, a WSU assistant professor of aerospace engineering, is the lead investigator on the research project, which is being funded with a $750,000 three-year research award from NASA. The research will be conducted in collaboration with Zhongquan Charlie Zheng at KU, Dong Lin at Kansas State, and ERG Materials and Aerospace Corp., Honeywell Aerospace and Spirit AeroSystems.

Two NASA Research Centers -- Langley Research Center and Glenn Research Center – will also be involved.

The research is driven by strict Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) noise regulations aimed at reducing the general population’s exposure to aircraft noise levels, which directly influence the location of new airports and expansion of current runways at existing airports. New technology to reduce aircraft engine noise will overcome engineering hurdles for the development of air taxis and new supersonic aircraft.

“Our goal is to help reduce this noise by bringing together all our different expertise and developing new sound absorbing materials that can be installed directly over the aircraft engine rotor – the number one source of aircraft noise,” Sharma said.

Engineers plan to develop lightweight, minimal-thickness liners using advanced cellular porous materials engineered to provide high sound absorption over a wide frequency range and capable of withstanding extreme engine environments, according to the project summary.

“As a world leader in manufacturing acoustically treated aerospace structures, Spirit is continuously striving for the next breakthrough in acoustics technology,” said Eric Hein, Spirit’s senior director for research and technology. “Spirit looks forward to combining our industry perspective with NASA’s world-class expertise and the research team Wichita State has assembled to develop the next generation of noise reduction and acoustic technologies for aerospace.”

The grant will be administered through the NASA Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) program. This program establishes partnerships between government, higher education and industry designed to address high-priority NASA research and technology development needs in a manner that creates lasting improvements in a state's or region's research and development infrastructure and competitiveness.

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