Sound isn’t just harmful due to noisy factories or machines. Public places, like theaters and concert halls, can also lead to risks of hearing loss. One recent suggestion tackles the two-pronged problem of noise pollution and renewable energy. It suggests intensifying sound protection in public spaces and simultaneous conversion of these unneeded sound waves into electrical power.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims a noteworthy 12.5% of kids and teenagers aged 6-19 years, and 17% of adults aged 20-69 years experienced permanent hearing damage from excessive noise exposure. Extended exposure to noise above 70 decibels can start damaging our hearing. Consequently, there’s an urgent need for solutions which can suppress extreme loud noises.
In the study, the researchers gave special attention to enclosed locations such as theatres and concert venues. They developed a system comprised of piezoelectric sensors that could be fitted into walls, floors, and ceilings to take in sound waves and harness their energy. Typically, sound levels in such encased spaces range between 60 to 100 decibels and can sometimes spike up to 120 decibels.
The experts grouped the sounds found in closed spaces based on the intensity (in decibels) which could possibly result in hearing loss. The design leverages piezoelectric sensors to soak up sound energy which is then converted into electrical power by our unique setup. Depending upon the pattern of generated electricity, the system’s output switches between battery storage or direct use.
To engineer an efficient system that captures sound within closed environments, the team used computer simulations to fine-tune elements like powering voltage for the device’s primary part, frequency and loudness of the incoming sound, as well as testing piezoelectric sensors in both parallel and serial setups.
The surprising element is that the system produces its highest output at specific frequencies that match those common to theater or auditorium sounds. Their design minimizes sound vibration each time it bounces off the piezoelectric material, thereby reducing overall noise intensity within the confined area.
Beyond lowering hearing loss risk, a key objective of the researchers was to create an eco-friendly energy system. They came up with a smart power management feature that adjusts according to inbound sound volume. This environmentally friendly system is also made using green materials. They chose a type of quartz for the piezoelectric material which is simply silica-based mineral- biodegradable and recyclable.