Physical Acoustics Summer School Hosted by UM

School explores acoustics, from bubbles to bottle rockets

Josh Gladden, interim vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs at the University of Mississippi, leads a demonstration at the National Center for Physical Acoustics during the 2018 Physical Acoustics Summer School. Photo by Kevin Bain/University Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Sometimes the quickest introduction to cutting-edge physical acoustics is questioning why a whistling bottle rocket whistles.

That’s why Greg Swift, a member of the Condensed Matter and Magnet Science Group at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, held a bottle rocket – unlit – in a ballroom at The Inn at Ole Miss earlier this month (June 3-8) during the 2018 Physical Acoustics Summer School, or PASS.

The summer school included 43 physical acoustics students and lecturers from around the country as well as the United Kingdom and China, who gathered on the University of Mississippi campus to discuss various physical acoustics subjects, from thermoacoustics to active noise control. During the week, graduate students got the chance to meet with experts and discuss physical acoustics topics they rarely encounter at their own colleges and universities.

“PASS is an intensive week where graduate students from around the world get exposed to a wide variety of fundamental topics in physical acoustics taught by world-class experts,” said Josh Gladden, UM interim vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs.

“In addition to the broad technical knowledge, [the school] provides a wonderful opportunity for the graduate students to form relationships with their peers and professionals in the field. As a PASS 2000 graduate, I still keep in touch with my classmates.”

While Swift’s presentation on thermoacoustics kicked off the week of physical acoustics subject matter, the school also included six more presentations, covering topics such as the acoustics of bubbles and bubbly fluids, biomedical ultrasound and active noise control.

Later during his demonstration, Swift pulled out a blowtorch and heated a glass tube, recreating the “singing tube,” an invention by Charles T. Knipp. A longtime University of Illinois physics professor who died in 1948, Knipp was well-known for his experiments in rainmaking and the conduction of electricity through glass.

The tubes are useful in demonstrations to showcase the conversion of heat energy into sound through a vibrating air column.

Throughout his demonstration, even while going over complex acoustical physics problems such as Fourier’s law of heat conduction, Swift kept the students – from 16 U.S. and two international universities – and lecturers enthralled.

Josh Gladden, interim vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs at the University of Mississippi, leads a tour of the National Center for Physical Acoustics during the 2018 Physical Acoustics Summer School. Photo by Kevin Bain/University Communications

Early on, he told the group members that he expected them to participate and peppered his presentation with questions such as “Why do some of these bottle rockets whistle?” “What’s the meaning of the question: Why does it whistle?” “What’s the scientific approach to a puzzle like this?” “What is still missing from our explanation here?”

Swift even showed a cutaway of a whistling bottle rocket that he cut out himself, which was why the cuts were so jagged, he joked.

Students gradually worked through an explanation of why a whistling bottle rocket whistles that involves the bottle rocket’s pyrotechnic composition, shape and combustion dynamics.

During a session on active noise control, Scott Sommerfeldt, a professor in the Brigham Young University Department of Physics and Astronomy, posed more questions to the students.

“Where did the energy go?” he asked. “Are we violating physics here?”

Sommerfeldt is researching methods for reducing unwanted sounds by matching sound against sound to create silence. The research has practical applications from quieting noisy propeller-driven aircraft to hushing air-conditioning systems and office equipment. His talk ranged from an introduction to inventor Paul Lueg, a German generally credited with beginning active noise control in the 1930s, to modern research into noise-cancellation methods.

One afternoon, the students and lecturers toured the National Center for Physical Acoustics, which serves as the Physical Acoustics Archives for the Acoustical Society of America and coordinates the biennial school.

The group toured labs and learned more about the center’s research in areas such as aeroacoustics and porous media, including the study of how to use acoustic waves to detect buried objects and structures such unexploded ordnance, improvised explosive devises, and tunnels, and how to use acoustics to measure the sediment payload carried by rivers and streams.

The 2018 edition of the Physical Acoustics Summer School received high marks from attendees, said Gladden, who recently was elected as a fellow of the Acoustical Society of America for his service to and leadership in the field of physical acoustics.

“Having PASS on the Ole Miss campus gives us the chance to show off our physical acoustics facilities right here in Oxford,” he said. “Students got to see cutting-edge acoustics research and ask senior scientists detailed questions.”

This year’s school was supported by the Acoustical Society of America, National Center for Physical Acoustics at UM and Applied Research Laboratories at the University of Texas.

UM Researchers Working on Acoustic Detection for Undersea Oil Leaks

Team gets $591,000 grant for work to make crude production safer for the environment

Zhiqu Lu, senior research scientist at the UM National Center for Physical Acoustics, is leading a team working to develop technology to detect leaks in offshore deep-water oil and gas lines and production equipment. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Snaking beneath the waters of the Gulf of Mexico are thousands of miles of pipelines carrying oil and natural gas from offshore wells. They carry the fuel that keeps the American economy rolling, with Gulf production accounting for 17 percent of total U.S. crude oil production and 5 percent of total U.S. dry natural gas production, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Even with safety protocols in place, though, a grave threat to offshore oil and gas operations is the leakage of hydrocarbons – a chief component of oil and natural gas – and the resulting damage to human health and safety, the environment and infrastructure.

Most recently, in October, an oil pipe fractured in the Gulf about 40 miles southeast of Venice, Louisiana, releasing between 7,950 and 9,350 barrels of oil before being halted. And, in 2010, the Deepwater Horizon spill leaked more than 3 million barrels into the Gulf.

“Oil exploration in the Gulf brings new economic development opportunities but also brings risks,” said Josh Gladden, University of Mississippi interim vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs. “The University of Mississippi has developed expertise in a number of areas, from engineering and sensing technologies to Biosystems, that can be brought to bear to minimize these risks and mitigate the impact.”

With that in mind, a team of UM researchers is working on technology that could quickly detect, locate and characterize these undersea hydrocarbon leakages in offshore deep-water oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico.

Last week, the trio of scientists received a $591,000 grant from the Gulf Research Program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to assist in their research.

The research is focused on utilizing acoustic technologies to develop a functional real-time monitoring system that can find leaks in deep-water oil and gas production in the Gulf over a large area while still being cost-effective. Early detection and location of leaks could minimize their impact. Current monitoring techniques are limited, including being unable to monitor in real time.

The Ole Miss team consists of three active researchers in acoustics, physics and electrical engineering. Zhiqu Lu, a senior research scientist at the National Center for Physical Acoustics, is responsible for the experimentation and overview of the project. Likun Zhang, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy, is responsible for the implementation and development of acoustic bubble modeling. Lei Cao, professor of electrical engineering, is responsible for the development of localization algorithms.

The researchers also are recruiting three graduate students to assist in experiments, programming and investigation in signal processing and acoustic signal modeling.

“When we heard the grant approval news, we were very excited and a little bit surprise, since among 66 submitted proposals only six projects were approved,” Lu said.

“This grant will provide a great opportunity to expand our research area that exploits the advantages of both underwater acoustic sensing techniques and oil spill-induced underwater sound mechanisms, along with an advanced localization technique.”

This project’s results could have tremendous applications in petroleum industries, environmental monitoring and other fields, he said.

“Further testing in the ocean, along with prototyping and commercializing efforts, will be immediately pursued upon the success of the current project,” Lu said. “That will be the next project.”

An “early warning system … is essential for preventing the next oil spill as well as for seafloor hydrocarbon seepage detection,” he said.

The researchers plan to build a network-based, real-time passive monitoring system of hydrophones, or underwater microphones, for detecting, locating and characterizing hydrocarbon leakages.

During an oil spill, the leaked hydrocarbon is injected into seawater at high speeds, creating an underwater sound through gas bubbles. The sounds of the bubbles can be recorded via the hydrophones over long distances that would indicate an oil spill.

“Using a hydrophone network, a triangulation localization method, similar to GPS-based navigation, can be developed to determine the leak location,” Lu said. “The oil-bubble sounds can be further analyzed to estimate the sizes and intensities of the oil leakages.

“Before the technology is full-developed and employed in ocean environments, we are going to first develop and test our detection and localization techniques/algorithm in a small-scale water tank under controlled oil spill conditions. This functional system will help us to acquire the acoustic signatures of bubble sound, improve detection and location techniques, and gain better understanding of bubble sound.”

The grant was one of six announced Dec. 7. The grants, involving research into new technologies that could improve the understanding and management of risks in offshore oil and gas operations, totaled $10.8 million.

Zhiqu Lu demonstrates his team’s approach for developing acoustic technology to detect gas bubbles from deep-water oil and gas leaks. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

“These projects address several facets of risk in offshore operations,” said Kelly Oskvig, program officer for the Gulf Research Program’s Safer Offshore Energy Systems initiative. “This includes research on the problem of gas unloading within deep-water drilling risers, development of remote detection capabilities of hydrocarbon releases, design of improved cementing mixtures and better techniques for sealing wells, and development of tools to assist team decision-making in the offshore environment.”

The six projects were selected after an external peer-review process.

The UM researchers are closely collaborating with GOWell International, an international oil and energy company, to ensure the relevance of the experiment to real scenarios and to aid in early prototyping of potential technologies, Lu said.

“The NCPA at the University of Mississippi has a long history of developing acoustics-based solutions for a wide variety of problems,” said Gladden, who is former director of the center. “Dr. Lu has many years of experience in linear and nonlinear acoustics in sediments and soils, and will provide excellent leadership on this project.”

In 2016, U.S. crude oil production in the Gulf of Mexico set an annual high of 1.6 million barrels per day, surpassing the previous high set in 2009, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The administration estimates that annual crude oil production in the Gulf could increase to an average of 1.7 million barrels per day in 2017 and 1.9 million barrels per day in 2018.

For more information about the National Center for Physical Acoustics, visit https://ncpa.olemiss.edu/.

The National Academies’ Gulf Research Program is an independent, science-based program founded in 2013 as part of legal settlements with the companies involved in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. The program seeks to enhance offshore energy system safety and protect human health and the environment.

The program has $500 million for use over 30 years to fund grants, fellowships and other activities in the areas of research and development, education and training, and monitoring and synthesis.

Visit http://www.national-academies.org/gulf/index.html to learn more.

University, ERDC Officials Discuss Partnership Opportunities

UM aims to increase collaborations with agency on several research projects

UM Vice Chancellor for Research Josh Gladden (far right) chats with (from left) ERDC Deputy Director David Pittman, NCPA Director Craig Hickey and ERDC Director James Holland during a visit Feb. 9 to the National Center for Physical Acoustics. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Several University of Mississippi administrators met with two top representatives from the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center who visited campus Thursday (Feb. 9) to discuss strengthening mutually beneficial collaborations.

ERDC Director Jeff Holland and Deputy Director David Pittman visited Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter; Alex Cheng, dean of the School of Engineering; and Craig Hickey, interim director of the National Center for Physical Acoustics, to talk about funding opportunities and strategies. The ERDC officials also met with William Nicholas, director of the Hub at Insight Park; and Ryan Miller, associate director of the Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence.

“We’ve had a wonderful relationship with the University of Mississippi for many years,” Holland said. “While it’s important that researchers at both ERDC and the university collaborate with each other, it’s also important that senior administrators at both places do the same. I believe we absolutely accomplished that objective today.”

Both Cheng and Hickey touted the value of the visit.

“In terms of engineering research, EDRC is one of the strongest assets in the state of Mississippi,” Cheng said. “The School of Engineering looks forward to educating students for high-tech careers who, hopefully, will seek and find employment at ERDC, thereby boosting the state’s economic growth.”

“As primarily a research organization on campus, NCPA and ERDC have multiple common research areas of interests,” Hickey said. “I can foresee scientists at both facilities continuing to communicate and increasing collaboration.”

Before Thursday’s meetings, UM and ERDC officials conducted visits, tours and calls at both sites. They agreed that the resilience of earthen dams and levees is a topic with mutual interest and capabilities that meets a national need.

Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter (left) enjoys conversations with (from left) ERDC Director James Holland and Deputy Director David Pittman during a visit to the Lyceum. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

“Over the past several years, UM and ERDC have put more energy into exploring collaborations, and we are excited about new opportunities that are emerging,” said Josh Gladden, interim vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs.

Last fall, the university signed an Educational Partnership Agreement and joined the ERDC Graduate Institute. The move allows both Ole Miss and ERDC to host coursework, pursue internships and engage in other activities.

The university and ERDC have shared interest and expertise in infrasound and earthen dam and levee monitoring and assessment, Gladden said.

“There are immediate opportunities in these fields for us to pursue together,” he said. “Other areas of potential collaboration are acoustic monitoring techniques for fish ecology, sediment transport, blast- resistant materials and general disaster resilience. As our relationship strengthens, it is likely this list will expand.

“Dr. Holland and I are on the same page about the need to foster higher-tech businesses in the state. They have looked at the business ecosystems around other large government research facilities which have vibrant small high-tech startups as potential models for ERDC and Vicksburg.”

Pittman and Miller said the agency’s partnership with the university will result in continued successful outcomes.

“We’ve had a wonderful association with the University of Mississippi for many decades,” Pittman said. “With new leaders coming into place, we look forward to our relationship becoming even stronger.”

“Having Drs. Holland and Pittman on campus was a great honor and a testament to the relationship we have with them and want to continue developing,” Miller said. “They had a great tour of the CME and discussed how manufacturing education here might play into research that ERDC is doing.”

UM is included in the elite group of R1: Doctoral Universities – Highest Research Activity by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, the definitive list of the nation’s top doctoral research universities. The group, which includes Harvard, MIT and Johns Hopkins, represents 2.5 percent of institutions of higher education in the U.S.

Joseph Gladden III Named Director of National Center for Physical Acoustics

New leader sets goal for center to advance to next level

Joseph R. 'Josh' Gladden III

Joseph R. 'Josh' Gladden III

OXFORD, Miss. – Joseph R. Gladden III is the new director of the National Center for Physical Acoustics at the University of Mississippi.

His appointment began Jan. 1, following approval from the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning.

Gladden, an associate professor of physics, joined the UM faculty as an assistant professor in 2005 after earning his Ph.D. and working as a post-doctoral fellow at Pennsylvania State University. Before that, he worked three years as a physics instructor at the United World College in Montezuma, N.M. The United World College is an international school for gifted students representing approximately 70 countries with a network of 10 sister campuses around the globe.

UM Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Morris Stocks said Gladden is an excellent choice for the position.Read the story …

Acoustics Center Successful in Reducing Jet Noise for U.S. Navy Aircraft

Work could help Navy cut noise-induced hearing losses

Bernard Jansen (left), a senior research and development engineer, and research scientist Nathan Murray examine an inner seal for a jet nozzle in the Anechoic Jet Laboratory at the National Center for Physical Acoustics. UM photo by Robert Jordan.

OXFORD, Miss. – The roar of high-performance jet engines is ear-piercing, but University of Mississippi researchers at the National Center for Physical Acoustics are studying ways to reduce the shriek of U.S. Navy aircraft.

 

Noise-induced hearing loss is the Navy’s No. 1 occupational health expense. The economic consequences to the Navy of hearing impairment include lost time, decreased productivity, loss of qualified workers through medical disqualification, military disability settlements, retraining and expenses related to medical treatment, such as for hearing aids.

Read the story …

National Center for Physical Acoustics at UM Announces Restructuring

Resources to be focused on established research programs

OXFORD, Miss. – The National Center for Physical Acoustics, located on the campus of the University of Mississippi, has announced plans to restructure its operations to focus more of the center’s internal resources on its well-established research programs in aero-acoustics, atmospheric acoustics, geophysical acoustics and ultrasound.

Alice Clark, vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs, said the decision by the NCPA research leaders is a strategic investment aimed at further enhancing the longstanding success of NCPA, which was established in 1989. Interim Executive Director James Chambers said, “We want to ensure that NCPA’s research programs, which are the core of its mission, will continue to flourish and contribute high-quality discoveries and innovations.”

The restructuring plan calls for the elimination of up to nine nontechnical positions, ensuring funds will be focused on research with the greatest possible return on investment. The university will provide employment through February 2013 for the affected employees and will provide those employees with career counseling and re-employment assistance.

The streamlining efforts would focus resources on NCPA’s four research specialties, all of which have demonstrated proven impact and competitive strengths. Research currently under way in the aero-acoustics group is aimed at developing new innovations to reduce jet engine noise, a major cause of hearing loss in the nation’s military personnel. Atmospheric acoustics advances infrasound methods for studying hurricanes and tornadoes. Geophysical acoustics research has a range of potential applications, such as determining the integrity of earthen levees and dams. Research in ultrasound is presently aimed at establishing standards to ensure the safety of medical diagnostic ultrasound devices.