* Mathematical models developed at Brunel University are paving the way for the development of roads that absorb noise pollution from traffic, writes Alan Thomson .
Simon Chandler-Wilde and his team have developed mathematical models that help computers calculate the complex behaviour of noise from fast-moving traffic. These have been applied by engineers to understand how noise may be reduced by different road surface materials.
Dr Chandler-Wilde said: "We have been looking at is the use of porous asphalt. Such materials are full of air pockets and as the air carrying the sound waves moves in and out of these pockets some of the sound energy is turned into heat."
Sound-absorbent porous road surfaces are used more widely on the Continent than in Britain. But their porous nature could make them susceptible to colder British weather, allowing water into the air pockets only to freeze and so disrupt the structure.
Dr Chandler-Wilde is to receive an award from the Institute of Acoustics in recognition of his work.
He said that by applying numerical analysis to the problem of noise pollution he and his team have been able to produce mathematical models that, when fed into a computer, allow simulation of sound behaviour.
This will also help road and environmental engineers to incorporate sound absorbency into roadside barriers and even buildings close to urban roads where vehicles travel at high speeds.
Dr Chandler-Wilde and his associates will also take part in a five-year project, run in conjunction with the government's Transport Research Laboratory, to develop mathematical models for the behaviour of road noise over natural landscapes.