A project to find out whether noise-cancelling technology will help mitigate the impact of turbine noise for neighbors of the Fox Islands Wind Power project began in late May.

The Maine Technology Institute, a nonprofit funded by the state that invests in new technologies, awarded a $12,358 seed grant to Fox Islands Wind for this undertaking, according to a press release from the technology institute.

The study is to find out whether noise-cancelling technology, which is used in headphones, luxury cars and airplane cockpits, can be applied to help with the problems some people have with turbine noise. Since the Fox Islands Wind project began last November, some neighbors have said that the noise from the turbines is so disruptive that they cannot lead normal lives. Other neighbors have said the noise does not bother them.

“This technology has never been tried for this application,” said George Baker, CEO of Fox Islands Wind and vice president of the Maine Community Wind Program at the Island Institute, which publishes The Working Waterfront. “It really is not certain whether it is going to work. This is very innovative and very cutting-edge. And we have hopes that this will be a partial solution, but a lot of technical work has to be done before we get our hopes up.”

The technical work will be done by Acentech Incorporated of Cambridge, Mass. and the Maine-based office of Conquest Innovations. Both companies are matching the amount of the grant by charging less than their normal fee for this project, according to Baker.

The concept for the project is that the sounds from the turbines would be measured, and a specific waveform derived from that sound would be transmitted to speakers inside the home. These speakers would produce a sound that cancels the turbine noise. “You won’t lose any other sounds-you would only lose the sound of the turbines,” said Baker. The technology used would have to adjust to the ever-changing sounds outside the home, and the waveform would have to also change to cancel the turbine noise.

In order to test this concept, the sounds the turbines make must be recorded from inside the home. Baker said that recording is to start right away in one or two empty houses near the turbines. “Most people living in their homes don’t want someone recording everything that is going on,” he said, about locating the equipment in a home that is currently occupied.

Once the recording is finished, engineers at Conquest Innovations will study the data and determine if this technology can be applied to turbine noise.

David A. Tyler is editor of The Working Waterfront.