Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MSME)

Document Type

Master's Thesis




Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. David W. Herrin

Second Advisor

Dr. Tingwen Wu


This research demonstrates the usage of numerical acoustics to model sound and vibrational energy propagation in HVAC ducts and plenums. Noise and vibration in HVAC systems propagates along three primary paths that can be classified as airborne direct, airborne indirect and structure-borne. The airborne direct path was simulated using acoustic FEM with special boundary conditions to handle the diffuse acoustic field loading and the baffled termination. The insertion loss for a number of different plenum geometries was compared to published measurement results. Results were in good agreement both below and above the cutoff frequency. Additionally, the airborne indirect path, often termed breakout noise by the HVAC community, was assessed using Statistical Energy Analysis (SEA). This path was examined experimentally by placing a loudspeaker inside the air handler and measuring the sound power transmitted through the walls. SEA results compared favorably with the measured results in one-third octave bands even at low frequencies. Finally, the structure-borne path was considered by exciting the walls of the aforementioned air handler using an electromagnetic shaker. The panel vibration and the sound power radiated from the panels were measured. Results were compared with the SEA with good agreement provided that SEA loss factors were determined experimentally.