Experiment sound barrier TU Delft

Interactive sound barrier rises for oncoming trains

A new approach to reducing disturbance caused by train noise has been developed by TU Delft: an interactive sound barrier which rises when trains pass by and drops back down once they have passed. The sound barrier, ‘’Barrier in Motion’’, is a monolithic system, which requires little maintenance. Static balancing leads to effortless deformation of the sound barrier.

Hoessein Alkisaei developed the idea of the innovative noise barrier for his master’s thesis at TU Delft’s Civil Engineering and Geosciences Faculty, and presented the results at the Rail Conferences in Paris. The research is the result of collaboration between TU Delft’s Faculties of Architecture, Mechanical Engineering and Civil Engineering.

Interactive sound barrier

“The interactive sound barrier takes a new approach compared to conventional noise barriers. As the sound barrier falls to the ground once the train traffic has passed, views for local residents are not overly disturbed. We deal with noise only at the moment that it is needed.”

“The idea of the interactive sound barrier was inspired by the Barrier in Motion project of VAA.ONL and the interactive walls of Festo and Hyperbody. For my master’s thesis, I developed the idea into a workable solution for the Dutch railway.”

Sound barrier TU Delft


“In the research, the complexity and the number of elements for a sound barrier needed to be reduced. In addition, the sound barrier needed to be put into place with absolutely no force, so that little or no actuation would be needed. Efficiency needs to be high, and costs need to be low.”

“The design I made is monolithic. This means that it is constructed from one piece: without various parts and nuts and bolts. The construction is, therefore, simple to reproduce – for example, by using a mold.

Sound barrier TU Delft

Computer model

In addition to the monolithic element, the sound barrier is statically balanced which means that no force needs to be supplied in order to move the construction. In order to establish the model for the sound barrier, Alkisaei conducted various tests in the Mechanical and Civil Engineering Faculties. ‘’I used the stiffness of the material in the design to compensate for the weight. Using a computer model, I searched for structural shapes of the material that would allow this.’’

The beauty of this solution is that it can be used in several ways, says Alkisaei. “You can make furniture in a room ‘’disappear’’, and then ‘’reappear’’. Think of station furniture, for example: a canopy under which people can shelter, or the edges of a platform which close off when a train passes by. You could also build a solar panel structure which rotates with the sun.’’

Interactive noise barrier

Hoessein Alkisaei, who has since graduated through this study, is looking for a PhD position to continue his research. Companies interested in the further development of deformable and interactive constructions can contact him via email at h.alki@live.com. Alkisaei was during his research guided by ir. Giuseppe Radaelli, Dr.ing. Henriette Bier, Prof.dr.ir. Just Herder and Prof.dr.ir. Bert Sluys.

See one of the test videos here:

Author: Marieke van Gompel

Marieke van Gompel is editor-in-chief of RailTech.com, RailFreight.com and SpoorPro.nl, online magazines for railway professionals.

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