Acoustic Panels Reduce Centrifuge Roar

May 31, 2018

Albuquerque, N.M., facility quiets WWTP with cost-effective solution

The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority of Albuquerque, N.M. operates a 76-million-gal-per-day (rated capacity) wastewater treatment plant that treats a daily average of 5 million gal of sewage from New Mexico’s largest city and its surroundings.

One of the operations in the wastewater treatment process is the dewatering of the sludge stream produced after aerobic digestion. This separation occurs in the centrifuge room, where three continuous Alfa Laval G-2 dewatering centrifuges handle the task. The cake that comes off the centrifuges is mixed with green solids and sent to composting, while the liquor is rerouted to the intake of the wastewater treatment process.

The Problem

A recent renovation of the centrifuge room included a call for upgrading the existing noise remediation treatment.

The centrifuges create quite a racket. Each centrifuge is a 400-gal-per-minute unit powered by a 200-hp motor operating at 2,600 rpm. The room also presents an acoustic challenge: It is 86 ft long by 36 ft wide by 17 ft high. The floor, walls and ceiling are concrete, and hard surfaces that promote excessive sound reverberation. 

The existing acoustic treatment, which consisted of perforated concrete blocks and acoustic foam blown on the ceiling, clearly was inadequate, making verbal communication within the room extremely difficult and creating a safety hazard.  

The Solution

According to Jesse May, project manager for Archer Western—the construction firm that performed the renovation—Eckoustic functional panels (EFPs) were specified for the job. The spec called for 85% sound absorption with panels covering 100% of the available ceiling space and 100% of the wall space from 11 ft, 4 in. above the floor up to the ceiling on three walls; the fourth wall opens to other parts of the plant.

The installation consists of 159 aluminum EFPs. Forty-five 30-in.-by-48-in. panels were installed on the walls, with the remaining 114 panels installed on the ceiling, ranging in size from 12 in. by 18 in. to 30 in. by 96 in. to fit around lights, ceiling beams and skylights. The paint color was Sherwin Williams Dover White. Installation, which was performed by Archer Western, was straightforward and proceeded without a hitch, said May. Eckel panels can easily be attached to any structure or to concrete with four stainless steel mounting bolts.

The Results

The project was completed in February 2018 and has made a noticeable difference in the room’s reverberation rate, and thus the acoustic ambience of the room. Acoustic tests reveal a 12-decibel drop in the noise level 32 ft from an operating centrifuge.

“Before the panels were installed, verbal communication in the room was very difficult and presented a safety issue,” said Lyman Waller, operations assistant superintendent at the Albuquerque facility. “After the panels were installed, the noise level dropped dramatically, and communication in the room was significantly improved. We used to have to move to the control room to discuss anything about the centrifuge and walk back and forth to point out issues. Now we can just talk at a slightly elevated level without problems hearing each other.”

Eckel EFPs offer a cost-effective and easy-to-implement solution to taming excessive industrial plant noise generated by pumps, compressors, machine tools and other noise-producing equipment. They are durable, fire-resistant and require little or no maintenance. The patented, high-performance panels are available in aluminum, galvanized or stainless steel, and can be customized in size or finish to complement any industrial layout or design.

About the Author

Vince Cavaseno

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