The European Commission is in the final stages of negotiating the launch of a 26.5 million euro Integrated Project that seeks to reduce noise levels associated with transport systems and infrastructures. Noise is a serious form of environmental pollution believed to affect the lives of some 100 million European citizens. The cost of the associated damage is estimated at more than ten billion euro per year. Now, under the nanotechnologies and nanosciences, knowledge based multifunctional materials and new production processes and devices (NMP) section of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), a consortium of some 42 partners from 13 European countries is preparing to address the problem. 'Intelligent materials for active noise reduction' (InMAR) aims to reduce noise levels associated with road and rail transport, both interior and exterior, as well as associated infrastructure such as bridges. There are a number of different approaches that the consortium can take. One is the use of intelligent materials that create opposing vibrations to counter or cancel those created by the noise source. To achieve this, the separate components in the materials use electronics and data control circuits to interact in the necessary way. Along with these techniques to suppress noise at source, other materials will be investigated for their ability to insulate against noise. As joint project coordinator Dr Thilo Bein from Darmstadt University told CORDIS News, bringing together a large scale consortium to address the issue is vital. 'InMAR will bring together top research institutes and universities, OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] from the automotive and railway sectors, components producers, and nine SMEs [small and medium sized enterprises] that specialise in smart structures and materials. 'We need all these partners from different areas because we are aiming to introduce new technologies, whose effectiveness has already been proved in the laboratory, into mass production,' Dr Bein said. The consortium expects the contract to be signed in early 2004, when funding will be released to cover the first four years of the project. Then, according to project coordinator Professor Hoger Hanselka 'we and the other participants [...] can set to work on implementing the objectives of the project.'