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VTT and Wärtsilä help power plants go acoustic

The project achieved a noise level reduction equivalent to reducing outside traffic noise by shutting the window and putting on earplugs.Pixels

Technology group Wärtsilä and the VTT Technical Research Institute of Finland have developed solutions to decrease noise pollution from power plants, clearing the way for more decentralised energy production networks.

The project team has rethought the acoustic architecture of the power plant and focused on the main source of noise – the ventilation and cooling of the plant’s engine. The results showed a reduction of 10–20 decibels in noise emissions, which would mean a 90–99 per cent reduction in noise levels.

“[W]e considered the entire acoustic chain from the sound source to the recipient across the hearing zone,” explained Antti Hynninen, senior scientist at VTT. “We also used the noise cancellation principle, where components attenuate each other based on the phasing of sound.”

The team produced entirely new components with the help of 3D printing and managed to reduce the need for insulating materials, improving the ecological footprint compared to more traditional approaches. Moreover, the cutback in noise levels will enable renewable energy production closer to where the energy in consumed.

“[T]he power plant must be a good neighbour so as not to disturb its surroundings,” commented Virpi Hankaniemi, project manager at Wärtsilä. “Wärtsilä has immediately implemented, tested and installed the solutions developed in the development project.”

The project lasted three years and was funded by Business Finland. According to the research team, the future of acoustic design for power plants could be further improved with the application of neural networks, smart sensing and machine learning.

Good News from Finland is published by Finnfacts, which is part of Business Finland.

By: Samuli Ojala