While noise generation may be a factor associated with all types of power generation, it is considered here because many CHP installations are designed for installation in commercial or urban domestic situations where any noise output is likely to be intrusive. Thus the noise output of a CHP plant will influence its usage.
The quietest of all CHP systems is probably the fuel cell. The actual electrochemical cells in a fuel cell operate silently. It has no generator, no turbine, no moving parts. However there is likely to be some noise associated with pumps and perhaps cooling systems. Designs intended for use close to homes or workplaces should be able to minimise noise to such an extent that it is no longer a consideration.
Micro turbines should also operate almost silently. These too are designed to be operated in close proximity to human activity.
Small piston-engine-based CHP systems are often intended for use in offices or for small district heating systems. However the engines are always noisy. They will normally require sound insulation and specially designed exhaust silencers for using in proximity with homes or offices. Underground or rooftop sites have often been employed to keep the units as isolated as possible.
Large piston engine plants, gas turbines and steam turbines are all relatively noisy and none is suitable for use close to housing or commercial units. These can all be used in large distributed generation applications but considerable attention to physical isolation of the site will be necessary.
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