Noise and Emissions

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Military training and testing operations throughout the United States involve aircraft, helicopters, ground vehicles, and munitions. These uniquely military assets emit regulated air pollutants and produce noise that has the potential to disturb surrounding communities and impact the health of military personnel operating in their immediate vicinity. Maintaining clean air and positive community relationships, as well as maintaining the health of the troops, are essential to the sustainment of operational capability and readiness.

Air Emissions

DoD operations are subject to the Clean Air Act, National Ambient Air Quality Standards, and other State and Federal regulations. Investments in understanding, predicting, and measuring the emissions from military platforms and munitions are essential for DoD to meet its near and long term environmental obligations.

  • Gas Turbine Engines – During operation, all gas turbine engines emit particular matter (PM), CO, NOx, and unburned hydrocarbon emissions that can affect air quality. These emissions sources must be quantified to meet current compliance requirements. Predicting and understanding their formation mechanisms is essential to meet future air quality challenges. The combustion process in a gas turbine engine is complex and is dependent upon fluid mechanics, physical chemistry, inorganic and organic chemistry, and thermodynamic effects. Maintaining high performance and operability of an engine while minimizing these emissions represent a significant challenge. SERDP and ESTCP are investing in research and development to understand the formation of air pollutants such as non-volatile and volatile PM in gas turbine engines burning conventional and alternative fuels and in technologies and test methods that can be used to measure emissions from advanced gas turbine engines.
  • Munitions – Munitions generate significant air emissions when they are used or demilitarized. The amounts and composition of these emissions must be determined to enable military installation managers to comply with environmental regulations and obtain permits to continue mission critical activities. SERDP and ESTCP projects aim to quantify the emissions created when munitions are used in normal operation or when they are demilitarized using techniques such as open burning and open detonation.


Noise, or unwanted sound, can disturb routine activities and may be a significant annoyance. During military training operations sounds from aircraft, ordnance detonations, gun firings, missile firings, combat engineering demolitions, and air-to-surface bomb drops all have the possibility of being disruptive to daily activity. This is of increasing concern to DoD because of the continuing establishment of new communities close to bases that were initially constructed in remote locations.

It is DoD’s policy ( DoDI 4715.13) to reduce adverse effects from the noise associated with military test and training operations consistent with maintaining military readiness and to integrate, without degrading mission capabilities, noise management techniques and principles into installation and operational range activities.

SERDP and ESTCP are developing and demonstrating the next generation of tools and technologies to predict, monitor, assess impacts, and reduce the level and impact of military noise. Investments include:

  • Developing cost-effective approaches to significantly reduce the noise generated by high-performance gas turbine engines
  • Prediction and simulation tools for military unique noise sources
  • Advancing the state-of-the-knowledge regarding human response to military sources of noise
  • Developing a database for noise prediction and measurement

All of these investments are designed for the purpose of avoiding testing and training restrictions and minimizing impulse noise impacts on military installation residents and neighbors. The development of noise reduction techniques on gas turbine engines will also provide a significant benefit to the health of military personnel operating in their immediate vicinity.

FY 2020 New Start Project Selections

FY 2020 New Start Project Selections for the Environmental Solicitation – SERDP; ESTCP

DoD Instruction (DoDI) 4715.13:
DoD Noise Program

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