Shaping the future of noise barriers

In 2021, ProRail and Rijkswaterstaat in the Netherlands posed a crucial question to the market through an innovation contest: how can the environmental impact of constructing noise barriers be reduced? Now, in 2024, after years of innovative project collaboration, answers have emerged.

Terrestrial and Summum Engineering proposed a 3D printed shot-earth noise barrier designed to lower environmental impact. The lifecycle of the innovation has been validated by an independent 3rd party (SGS) to be 11% of reference product as selected by ProRail. This solution allows for freeform shapes that can enhance noise reduction.

Efterklang were tasked with conducting simulations to investigate whether the proposed barrier and various shapes improve noise reduction. The research specifically examines how altering the angle of a noise barrier can affect noise levels. Adjusting the angle can help direct sound waves back toward the ground, potentially reducing the noise that reaches surrounding areas.

Simulations of 3D printed shot-earth noise barrier.

The field tests were primarily conducted in the test environment of Rijkswaterstaat, known as the Living Lab InnovA58. This outdoor laboratory features physical test sites for evaluating promising innovations aimed at creating a sustainable living environment. At this site, Rijkswaterstaat collaborates with other government bodies, knowledge institutions, and companies to drive innovation.

From prototyping on Living Lab InnovA58 area in the Netherlands.

Next steps

The proposal for a 3D printed shot-earth noise barrier has been selected as one of four solutions to be built full-scale and installed in the Netherlands.
In the coming years, ProRail will install approximately 62 kilometers of noise barriers with an average height of 2.5 meters along the tracks as part of the Long-Term Noise Remediation Programme (MJPG). The materials and transport for these noise barriers have a significant environmental impact, totaling 48,000 tonnes of CO2-equivalent (comparable to the annual emissions of 2,500 Dutch households). This underscores the importance of exploring ways to reduce this environmental footprint.

“At Efterklang, we are excited to have participated in this innovative project. We believe collaborative platforms are crucial for discovering future solutions, and we are confident we will continue to engage in opportunities to develop new, better, and more environmentally friendly noise mitigation solutions,” says Manne Friman, Senior Acoustician Community Noise at Efterklang.

More information

For more information about the project, please get in touch with Manne Friman
Tel: +46 10 505 60 72