NCT, utilities joining forces to reduce noise


Noise Cancellation Technologies Inc. announced yesterday that it is forming a consortium with electric utilities around the world, including Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., to assist in refining and producing the company's process of reducing noise from electric power transformers.

Michael Parrella, president of NCT, said the goal is to team with between 15 and 20 utilities to share the $5 million development cost of noise-reduction equipment for power transformers used by utilities worldwide.

Word on the new business partnership came as the company announced the results of its first U.S. test of NCT's patented noise-control technology on BG&E; transformers in Annapolis.

Charles T. Lacey Jr., senior engineer at BG&E;, said the equipment reduced the loud, low-frequency noise coming from the transformer by about 75 percent.

Representatives from 27 utilities and a dozen transformer manufacturers -- some from as far away as Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands -- attended yesterday's briefing on the effectiveness of NCT's technology.

Quieting transformers represents "a potential market of $2 billion to $3 billion in North America alone," Mr. Parrella said.

He said utilities participating in the consortium would be offered a discount on the equipment.

For BG&E;, Mr. Lacey said the NCT technology represents a 25 percent reduction in its cost of quieting transformers in residential neighborhoods.

The alternative, he said, is to build sound barriers, similar to those along highways. A problem with this approach, the engineer said, is that the transformer builds up heat that cuts its power output by about 15 percent.

Mr. Lacey said BG&E; would sign an agreement to become the first utility member of the consortium.

In a simplified explanation of the technology, Mr. Parrella said, the electronic equipment counters the vibration of the transformer that causes the noise.

Mr. Lacey said BG&E;, like other utilities, is being pressured by new government regulations to lower the sound of all new transformers in residential neighborhoods.

NCT is based in Stamford, Conn., and has its research and development operations in Linthicum. Its technology is also used to eliminate siren noise inside firetrucks and ambulances, and is being tested by the automobile industry as a substitute for the muffler.

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