The LIFE Nereide and LIFE E-Via Projects are financed by the European Union through the Life Programme. They are looking for an answer to the problem of noise pollution caused by traffic in urban centres as it affects 100 million people in Europe every year.

An ideal city would certainly have silent streets with only electrical cars travelling on them, as electrical cars can improve not only the quality of the air we breathe, thanks to lower emissions, but also the noise impact of driving.

In Italy, two European projects sponsored by the LIFE projects are currently ongoing. They are the Life Nereide and Life E-Via projects. Their aim is to find solutions against noise pollution –  one of the environmental problems that mainly affects the health and the quality of life of the European Population. Indeed, this problem is often underestimated but it “can be heard”. For this reason, our Country is putting into place its best skills to find solutions that could limit its effects. Indeed, the European Environmental Agency (EEA) estimated that over 100 million citizens are exposed to prolonged levels of excessive noise in Europe. For this reason, they risk serious consequences for their health. If we consider urban contexts, the situation gets more complicated. Here, traffic noise is more intense and damaging, to the point of being harmful for the health of almost a person out of three. The EEA has estimated that nocturnal noise pollution is even more dangerous for our health and affects at least 20% of the European population that lives in urban areas.

So, how is it possible to protect the citizens’ psycho-physical wellbeing from the damage caused by noise pollution? Some of the most effective actions put into place are the creation of road surfaces with low noise emissions made with recycled materials and the exploitation of the positive impact of a progressive spreading of electric mobility. Born to analyse the possible benefits from an ever greater diffusion of these solutions, the, Life Nereide and Life E-Via are two projects that fall within the LIFE scope – the programme that develops actions in favour of the climate and the environment and that may create added value for the whole of Europe.

The Life Nereide Project is heading towards its conclusion. It has defined the best solutions to create extremely silent and sustainable surfaces, that can effectively reduce the noise of urban traffic by up to 5db thanks to an intelligent use of recycled materials such as recycled rubber powders and asphalt millings – this is the asphalt removed from old road surfaces.

The project is coordinated by the Department of Civil and Industrial Engineering of the University of Pisa. Its partners are Region Tuscany, Arpat – Agenzia regionale per la protezione ambientale della Toscana (The Tuscan Regional Agency for Environmental Protection), the Belgian Research Centre BRRC, IDASC-CNR and Ecopneus. Thanks to this project, 12 different bituminous mixes have been defined and laid on several roads of Region Tuscany. Acoustic measurements have then been carried out on the road surfaces, as well as some investigations on the local population to get to know also the concrete effects on the people who live near busy roads.

If the Life Nereide project focused on the study of “silent” road surfaces, the Life E-Via Project, instead, faces the problem of noise by concentrating on the potentiality of use of electric and hybrid vehicles, studying the tyre-road interaction to identify and implement noise mitigation measures by the means of the optimisation of the tyres of electric vehicles and of the road surface. This shall be done also by the means of the development of a new “silent” asphalt studied with an approach similar to the one of the LIFE Nereide project.

The project sees the Council of the City of Florence as its coordinator; other partners are: Continental, iPOOL sr,l, The Gustave Eiffel Univesity, the Università degli Studi Mediterranea of Reggio Calabria and Ingegneria S.r.l..