Silver medal awarded for pioneering engineering

Dr Daniel Elford was one of this year's winners of the Royal Academy of Engineering's prestigious Silver Medal, in recognition for an outstanding personal contribution to UK engineering by an early to mid-career engineer resulting in market exploitation

This year's Royal Academy of Engineering Awards Dinner took place at London's Banqueting House on Thursday 11 July. Along with the announcement of the winner of this year's MacRobert Award, the event also celebrated the winners of other awards and prizes including the Major Project Award, Silver Medal, President's Medal, Rooke Award and RAEng Engineers Trust Young Engineer of the Year.

Dr Daniel Elford is Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Sonobex Ltd, a company that is developing acoustic metamaterials to address noise pollution problems. He was awarded an Academy Enterprise Fellowship in 2012, and He became an Academy Enterprise Hub SME Leader in 2018.

Noise is an increasingly important public health issue, with 210 million people in the EU exposed to road noise levels that are considered harmful. The harmful effects of noise have been linked to up to 50,000 fatal heart attacks every year and 200,000 cases of cardio-vascular disease in the EU. Sonobex's technology has the potential to change the global marketplace for noise control solutions, with significant environmental and societal benefits.

Acoustic metamaterials are at the forefront of modern acoustics, and Sonobex is leading the field in developing commercial solutions for industrial noise control. Acoustic metamaterials are artificially engineered structures that can display novel acoustic effects not found in nature. They can control low frequency sound and can be tuned to control, direct and manipulate sound.

Sonobex has developed the first commercially available, acoustic metamaterial-based technologies that are revolutionising industrial noise control and enabling unrivalled low-frequency noise reduction. The company designs and manufactures a range of modular engineered systems incorporating novel NoiseTrap® acoustic-metamaterial based panels.

Dr Elford said: "It is such an honour to be awarded a prestigious Silver Medal by the Academy in recognition of my achievements, none of which would have been possible without the Academy's early support.

Adrienne Vertooren, Member of the Supervisory Board of the Group Company Merford, said: "Our modern, industrialised world comes with a lot of noise. We have to protect ourselves against noise from cars, trains and machines. The techniques we use to do that, such as barriers, silencers and absorbing materials, have been around for decades. Dr Elford and his team came up with something entirely new: using metamaterials. Metamaterials do not use physical properties to control noise, like mass for an acoustic barrier or absorption for a ceiling plate to reduce the echo in a room, but instead use the shape of objects. By using metamaterials, Dr Elford and his team invented several new products with outstanding acoustic performance. Their acoustic panels are being used in several industrial projects and several other products are close to being introduced."