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How Iris Pantle, Balazs Pritz and Carlos Falquez want to rid the world of superfluous noise.

Balazs Pritz, Iris Pantle, Carlos Falquez

Noise is annoying! It's not for nothing that, in German, the term “Lärm” (noise) derives from the word alarm. Disturbing noises, even if people are used to them, have a subconscious effect on body and psyche. High acoustic exposure is recognized as a health hazard, prominent examples being aircraft noise in approach corridors or traffic noise near highways.

The noise level of equipment, machinery and installations is determined by several parameters. One of these parameters is noise from flows, such as when air is drawn in by a vacuum cleaner or range hood. "The industry is already doing a lot to block out flow noise. We are pursuing the goal of avoiding this noise in the design of the equipment in the first place," says physicist Iris Pantle, who is working with her colleagues Balazs Pritz and Carlos Falquez on a new type of acoustic simulation.

Until now, the widespread use of elaborate simulations for acoustic prediction has been hindered by the computing power required for the multi-step data-intensive calculations and the expensive hardware involved. Despite the need, corresponding software has therefore not been able to establish itself in SMEs.

The KIT research team has developed software that both simulates flows within a component and calculates the acoustics that cause these flows. The software runs these complex simulations over a cloud server architecture. This offers customers several advantages: For the first time, they can use the large reservoir of cloud computing power for their predictions in a fully automated way. The distribution of computing power makes the simulations very fast, and the software also runs browser-based. This means that engineers and designers do not have to purchase and administer any of the standard simulation programs in their own companies.

This is particularly advantageous to small and medium-sized engineering firms and plant construction companies as it offers them prospects for expanding their portfolio of services: "Until now, only large industrial companies and research centers with large computer centers could afford to carry out meaningful acoustic predictions at all. We are opening up the market with Simulation-as-a-Service," explains Carlos Falquez. For engineers, getting started with the software is easy, even though the numerical mathematics in the background is complex. The software's user interface is adapted to industry-standard computational fluid dynamics (CFD) standards.

Pantle, Pritz and Falquez see their product as a solution to a major market gap in industries such as automotive and mechanical engineering. In 2007, at the KIT Institute of Fluid Machinery, they came up with a first idea to develop elaborate yet easy-to-use acoustic predictions for industrial applications. After moving to the automotive industry, Iris Pantle recognized the need for her research work and the potential of specialized cloud service software. She returned after two years to bring the technology to market. Therefore, Pantle and her colleagues are currently preparing their company foundation with the support of KIT. Balazs Pritz is convinced that the development work will pay off: "We believe that our software will find its way to the market because we have a good product and are constantly working on further development.

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Images: KIT


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