The start-up will use its SoundBounce technology to improve the acoustic environment within launch vehicles, in an effort to reduce damage to payloads caused by the vibration of rocket engines.
Lios, the Dublin start-up formerly known as Restored Hearing, has begun a new project with the European Space Agency (ESA) to develop its advanced acoustic material SoundBounce for use in the next generation of European space transportation technology.
Founded in 2009 by Rhona Togher and Eimear O’Carroll, Lios has developed technology that can protect people from avoidable hearing damage by using novel materials for hearing protection.
In partnership with the ESA, Lios is attempting to tackle damage that occurs with launch vehicle payloads, such as satellites and delicate instrumentation, when they are subject to high levels of acoustic noise and vibration during space flight.
Using SoundBounce in space
The Irish business will work towards improving the acoustic environment within the launch vehicle fairing – the nose cone that protects the payloads on their way into orbit.
It said that SoundBounce can reduce weight and enable an increase in the size and mass of satellites, giving the European space transportation industry an advantage in the increasingly competitive space market.
Togher said that the acoustic industry has been “technologically stagnant” for decades, and that traditional materials like foam and concrete aren’t up to the task of dealing with an increasingly noisy world. “SoundBounce offers game-changing advantages to our customers using energy absorbing technology never seen in the acoustics sector,” she added.
By developing and qualifying SoundBounce to meet the demands of the space sector, the start-up expects further opportunities to arise in other sectors requiring high levels of reliability, such as automotive and commercial aviation.
Commenting on the company’s change of name, Togher said: “Our new company identity reflects our global customer base across the aerospace, automotive, home appliances and power generation industries.”
Partnering with the ESA
Lios will work with the ESA’s Future Launchers Preparatory Programme to develop, test and qualify SoundBounce as a new acoustic protection material for space launch vehicle fairings.
The start-up said that current acoustic and vibration materials in launch vehicles are thick and heavy to absorb high levels of low-frequency noise generated at the launch and separation flight stages. This reduces the space available for cargo and in some cases results in larger launchers being required.
Lios said SoundBounce has the potential to mitigate the effects of this harsh environment to protect the sensitive payload, while reducing mass and cost. It added that SoundBounce can be used to tune the physical and mechanical properties to target specific noise frequencies generated during launch, improving the ride comfort of satellites and other delicate cargo.
Tom Kelly, divisional director of innovation and competitiveness at Enterprise Ireland, commented: “Lios is one of an ever-growing number of innovative Enterprise Ireland client companies working with ESA to support the development of commercial technologies with applications in the space and terrestrial markets – I wish them every success in their journey.”