Canadian researchers, lead by an Indo-Canadian engineer, are working on devising solutions to the problem of underwater noise pollution given its adverse impact on marine mammals.
The constant barrage of noise from ships and other vessels can caused problems like hearing loss and stress for mammals like dolphins and whales. Propellers used by ships are among the main culprits.
Project lead Dr Rajeev Jaiman, Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of British Columbia (UBC), said, “Propeller noise can hit 170 decibels, the equivalent of a jet engine or a rocket lift-off.”
The solutions the UBC research team is pursuing include design improvements to control propeller noise as well as artificial intelligence-based tools.
Among the solutions being studied are “injecting a jet of fluid to help control propeller movement or introducing wavy and serrated edges to break up flow patterns that cause noise,” according to a release from UBC.
Jaiman and his colleagues are developing an AI-based framework to “rapidly analyze the fluid interactions and dynamics behind the noise,” with the eventual objective of providing “marine engineers with a new suite of tools to design and manufacture quieter propellers.”
They are also addressing the issue of structural components and materials used in ships.
“Advanced structures could be better noise barriers. They can be stronger and have other benefits as well,” Dr Jasmin Jelovica, a naval architect and Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Civil Engineering in UBC’s Faculty of Applied Science, said.
The researchers have received funding from Transport Canada’s Quiet Vessel Initiative to create an AI-based noise prediction toolkit, which will “allow ships to adjust their noise based on the location of nearby marine mammals, and new AI software tools that can predict underwater vessel noise early in the design stage.”
Jaiman, who completed his B Tech at IIT-Bombay said, “Efficient AI-based predictions together with novel flow control devices and structural modifications can help us to tackle ship noise pollution while reducing carbon emissions.”