Radical sound-absorbing technology reuses 95% of production waste

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EPSRC-funded research has enabled manufacturing company Armacell to reuse up to 95% of its production waste.

  • Researchers’ sound absorbing technology licensed to Armacell has been exploited globally with an average market value of £10 million
  • Research led to the development of ArmaSound, a high-performance sound absorbing product
  • Over 500 tonnes of plastic waste is reused each year, preventing it from being sent to landfill

Research funded by EPSRC and the Technology Strategy Board (now Innovate UK) carried out by Kirill Horoshenkov at the University of Bradford – now a professor at the University of Sheffield – has enabled Armacell, a world leader in insulation foams for a wide range of industries, to reuse the majority of its production waste.

Armacell produces high-performance acoustic material technology products that offer up to 50 per cent better sound absorption than competitors’ products of a similar size. The product, Armasound, is used across several industries including petrochemical (industrial piping), domestic appliances (boilers) and air handling (ventilation ducts) and in heavy automotive (tractors and excavators). By reusing industrial polymeric waste, Amarcell is able to prevent more than 500 tonnes of spent plastic from going into landfill every year.

The underpinning research behind ArmaSound has relied on advanced analytical, computational and experimental methods to examine and optimise the acoustic and mechanical properties of porous elastomeric coatings. This research has led to new sound absorbing materials that could be produced from waste industrial plastics and rubbers. Researchers were able to enhance the acoustic absorption and vibration damping performance of these products while maintaining quality and enabling the scale-up for manufacturing worldwide.

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In 2000, Professor Horoshenkov and his former PhD student Dr Mark Swift, founded university spin-out company Acoutechs Limited, to exploit the results of his research into acoustic material manufacturing technology. This technology is now licensed to Armacell and exploited globally with an average market value of £10 million.

Professor Horoshenkov has contributed to the field of acoustics for many years. His research has been recognised by the prestigious Tyndall Medal by the Institute of Acoustics, and The Royal Society’s Brian Mercer Award for Innovation. He now leads the EPSRC UK Acoustics Network (www.acoustics.ac.uk).

His EPSRC and Royal Society-sponsored research on novel acoustic instrumentation for rapid inspection of underground pipes has led to the university spin-out company, Acoustic Sensing Technology (UK) Limited. The company provides the physical technology, software and field support for SewerBatt ™ an acoustic drain and sewer surveying product now in global use.

Since its 2013 launch, SewerBatt™, the idea for which was conceived by water industry pioneer Richard Long, Director of Technology at Acoustic Sensing Technology, has received glowing praise from water industry experts. Piers Clarke, Thames Water’s Commercial Director has described it as “a phenomenal technology”. This spin-off has attracted £1.5 million of venture capital investment and it annual sales in 2017 were £580k. The company was among the finalists of the Water Industry Achievement Awards in 2017 under the Data Project of the Year Theme.