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FP6

INMAR — Result In Brief

Project ID: 501084
Funded under: FP6-NMP
Country: Germany

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An EU-funded project has brought intelligent materials out of the lab and to the doorstep of industrial commercialisation for the first time. Aside from decreasing noise in vehicles and factories, the outcomes should bring jobs and economic benefits to the EU and its citizens.
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Intelligent materials are those whose properties can be changed in a controlled way by application of a stimulus such as pressure, temperature or electromagnetic fields. Smart structures can be created using these materials by integrating them with a sensor and an actuator, a device that acts on another structure as a result of the signal sensed. Combined with specific control strategies, they adapt to stimuli or environmental changes in ways similar to biological systems – hence, intelligently.

Active noise control is an area of increasing research activity that combines the use of smart materials with active control technology to reduce noise and vibration. Noise within vehicles or in factories contributes to physical fatigue of those exposed and thus numerous serious or even fatal accidents.

The ‘Intelligent materials for active noise reduction’ (INMAR) project built on this knowledge base focusing on specific problems related to noise, vibration and harshness (NVH). Many smart structures made from intelligent materials have been investigated in the laboratory with as yet little impact on standard design and engineering practices or application to mass production.

The researchers first defined the specific NHV problems of interest and developed target concepts for basic technologies. They then developed prototypes via integration of the intelligent materials with actuator and sensor systems as well as control strategies to produce smart structures. This enabled optimisation of system performance including materials characteristics as well as noise reduction capability. Finally, they conducted ground-breaking feasibility studies related to cost, durability and reliability heretofore not possible given the laboratory scale of the projects.

In summary, the INMAR project developed smart structure technology that for the first time enables mass production of highly efficient, light-weight durable systems for active noise reduction. The results thus significantly enhanced the commercial potential of intelligent materials with broad sweeping applicability to civil engineering, machine tools, automobiles, trains and aerospace engineering, to name a few. As such, the project outcomes position the EU to be a leader in the industrial application of intelligent materials, with tremendous potential for jobs creation and the European economy.

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