PFI-TT: Using nanotechnology to create a proof-of-concept prototype for noise-canceling in building ventilation systems.

Project: Research project

Project Details


The broader impact/commercial potential of this PFI project is to increase the economic competitiveness of the United States in the carbon nanotube thermophone market, specifically beating other countries to market in the active noise control arena. Ventilation noise in hospitals is detrimental to patient recovery, in schools is detrimental to student learning outcomes, and in communities is detrimental to restful sleep leading to increased stress. This project develops a noise control product concept to significantly improve the welfare of the American people in these areas. In addition to the beachhead market of building ventilation, the technology has applications in the automotive and heavy equipment industries, and in military stealth applications, potentially protecting the lives of the American warfighter. This project will enhance a partnership between academia and industry, potentially launching a new start-up. This PFI-TT project will engage one graduate student and one post-graduate student in active entrepreneurship while supporting participation of women in science, engineering, and entrepreneurship. The proposed project will develop a prototype for a coaxial active noise cancelation device in ventilation ducts using carbon nanotube (CNT) thermophones. The technology provides an active silencer solution that allows the occupant to customize sound in real time, a unique market feature, with as much as an 80% size and weight reduction while improving air handler efficiency over current passive silencer technologies. The coaxial loudspeaker technology is enabled through carbon nanotechnology to create a compact speaker with no moving parts. The product is a drop-in replacement to existing duct systems and can be installed in line. Excessive noise from air handlers is detrimental in schools, theaters, hospitals, and in communities near industrial facilities. This technology aims to alleviate these noise burdens in an economical and safe way. The prototype developed under this program will be used to prove the technology to industry facility managers, value-added-resellers, and building engineers, who are historically risk-averse in adopting new technology. In particular, showing that the technology can be scaled to large ducts (6" in diameter or more), that the device does not increase system backpressure, and that it has significant lifespan with limited maintenance will be key outcomes from this work.This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
Effective start/end date8/1/181/31/21


  • National Science Foundation: $200,000.00


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