Irish Company Lios Heads for Space with Smart Acoustic Technology

2nd November 2020

Posted In: The Topic

Dublin based Lios, formerly Restored Hearing, has set its sights on space as they begin a project with the European Space Agency (ESA) to develop their advanced acoustic material, SoundBounce, for the next generation of European space technology.

Launch vehicle payloads, such as satellites and delicate instrumentation, are subject to high levels of noise and vibration during space flight. Lios will work towards improving the acoustic environment within the launch vehicle fairing – the nose cone that protects the satellites on their way into orbit. Acoustic noise and vibration caused by the rocket engines can damage the satellite. SoundBounce can reduce weight and enable an increase in the size and mass of satellites launched by ESA. This will give Europe a key advantage in the competitive space sector.

Originally founded as Restored Hearing in 2009 by Rhona Togher (pictured on right) and Eimear O’Carroll (pictured on left), the team focused on protecting people against avoidable hearing damage by developing novel materials for hearing protection. The company is announcing a refreshed brand identity and changing its name to Lios as they expand their patented technologies into more diverse and international markets.

SoundBounce and Advanced Materials

CEO, Rhona Togher explains the acoustic industry has been technologically stagnant for decades, and traditional materials like foam and concrete aren’t up to the challenge of our increasingly noisy world:

“SoundBounce offers game-changing advantages to our customers using energy absorbing technology never before seen in the acoustics sector.

Our new company identity reflects our global customer base across the aerospace, automotive, home appliances, and power generation industries”.

Developing and qualifying SoundBounce to meet the rigorous demands of the space sector will open further opportunities in other sectors requiring high levels of reliability such as automotive and commercial aviation. This expansion builds on the disruptive potential of the SoundBounce technology in tackling noise pollution across the globe and beyond.

Lios Working with European Space Agency

As pioneers in acoustic metamaterials, Lios is working with ESA’s Future Launchers Preparatory Programme (FLPP) to develop, test, and qualify SoundBounce as a new acoustic protection material for launch vehicle fairings. Current acoustic and vibration materials in launch vehicles are thick and heavy to absorb the high levels of low frequency noise generated at the launch and separation flight stages.

This reduces the volume available for the payload or cargo that the launch vehicles carry and, in some cases, results in larger launchers being required. SoundBounce has the potential to mitigate the effects of this harsh environment and protect the sensitive payload (satellites or delicate instrumentation) while reducing mass and cost. The key technical and competitive advantage of SoundBounce is the ability to tune the physical and mechanical properties to target specific noise frequencies generated during launch improving the ride comfort of the satellites.

ESA is preparing new space transportation systems to respond to Europe’s future institutional needs and to continue at the forefront of new developments in space. ESA’s programme dedicated to the preparation of this future, the Future Launchers Preparatory Programme (FLPP) funds research and product development to foster new technologies capable of delivering performance and reliability coupled with reduced operational costs for European launch vehicles and low impact on the environment. FLPP is instrumental in the European strategy for access to space. This 12-month project is the first phase in developing a new technology for application in future European launch vehicles, in collaboration with two of Europe’s leading space manufacturers.

Commenting on the announcement, Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, Damien English TD said: “This contract is significant in that it embodies our National Space Strategy for Enterprise 2019-2025, which focuses on spinning in innovative technologies from non-space applications into the commercial space market, leveraging Ireland’s investment in the European Space Agency to develop sustainable space-enabled businesses. Through their success, Lios are also demonstrating the ability of Irish business to use their talents in developing products that are recognised as being the very best on an international stage.”

Tom Kelly, Divisional Director of Innovation & Competitiveness at Enterprise Ireland congratulated Lios on their success, noting “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 on their journey”.

This is an exciting new chapter for the team at Lios.