Purdue University Graduate School

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Experimental study and modeling of granular particle stacks

posted on 2024-06-10, 14:29 authored by Guochenhao SongGuochenhao Song

In the field of noise control engineering, the development of effective low-frequency sound absorption treatments has long been a challenge, since conventional solutions tend to require impractically thick layers of traditional porous materials, such as fibrous materials and foams. In contrast, high surface area particles, such as granular activated carbon (GAC) particles, milled aerogels, and zeolites, have inner-particle pores at micro and nano scales, which improve the low-frequency absorption by slowing the local sound speed. As a result, a 30 mm thick GAC stack can achieve an absorption coefficient of 0.3 at 100 Hz. Hence, these materials have already been used in various low-frequency applications in place of fibrous or foam layers: e.g., MEMS speaker back cavities, Helmholtz resonator liners, micro-perforated panel absorbers, and membrane absorbers. One major practical goal of this research was to determine how best to model and optimize novel treatments consisting in whole or in part of high surface area granular materials.

The detailed work presented in this thesis starts with a review of acoustical models of various material types, followed by two approaches to modeling and coupling different types of layers in a general and stable manner. In particular, in the second approach, a large, complicated system is divided into a series of small systems, hence avoiding the direct inverse solution of large systems. As a result, the second approach is more efficient and enables computationally intensive tasks such as multi-layer material characterization and sound package optimization. In addition to the modeling techniques, different types of granular stacks’ acoustical behavior were also experimentally investigated and summarized: i.e., 1. the edge-constraint effect resulting from the friction at the wall of the impedance tube; 2. level-dependent behavior; 3. time-dependent behavior; and 4. other non-linear behavior. To capture the observed acoustical physics of GAC stacks, a triple-porosity poro-elastic model with a depth-dependent modulus was described, followed by characterization frameworks to model the stacks subject to the edge-constraint effect as well as varying excitation levels. These frameworks were validated by comparing the absorption spectra predicted by using the inferred material properties with impedance tube measurements of GAC stacks with varying depths, diameters, and exposure levels. In the end, a novel sound absorption treatment was presented (a GAC stack supported by a soft, porous layer), which was subsequently optimized to develop broadband absorbers.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Mechanical Engineering

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

J. Stuart Bolton

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee co-chair

Tongyang Shi

Additional Committee Member 2

Maria Caterina C. Santagata

Additional Committee Member 3

James Gibert

Additional Committee Member 4

Fabio Semperlotti