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AIRPORT FUEL CELL UNVEILING FEATURES ASTRONAUT AND ENERGY OFFICE

    PITTSBURGH, Aug. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria joined representatives of The Peoples Natural Gas Company, Consolidated Natural Gas Company, Duquesne Light Company, the Pennsylvania Energy Office, USAir, the Pennsylvania House Business and Economic Development Committee, the Gas Research Institute and the Allegheny County commissioners today at the Pittsburgh International Airport to unveil one of only 25 natural gas fuel cells in the United States.
    "It's very exciting to see technology originally developed for space being used here on earth," said Lopez-Alegria, a U.S. Navy lieutenant commander who is the technical operator of the Orbiter vehicles.  "The fuel cell demonstrates how the space program benefits our quality of life on earth."
    "This project is a major step in demonstrating the practicality of using fuel cell technology to provide a clean, alternative energy source in the decades to come," said Pennsylvania Energy Office Executive Director Brian Castelli, speaking on behalf of Lt. Gov. Mark Singel.
    "Technologies like this fuel cell will provide jobs in the future and sustain the United States as an economic powerhouse and technological leader in the continued development of innovative energy supplies," said Castelli.
    "This fuel cell will provide five percent of the power to the electric grid in the portion of the airport that includes USAir's maintenance and hangar area, enough electricity to power 50 homes," according to Roger E. Wright, president of The Peoples Natural Gas Company, which has erected and is sponsoring the fuel cell in cooperation with Duquesne Light Company.  Others providing support and cooperation include the County of Allegheny and its Department of Aviation, the Pennsylvania Energy Office, USAir and the Electric Power Research Institute.
    "I commend Peoples Gas, Consolidated Natural Gas, Duquesne Light, USAir, the Pennsylvania Energy Office and Allegheny County for your leadership and cooperation in deploying this innovative technology. Coalitions such as the one represented here are the only way to ensure the success of new technologies," said Stephen Ban, president of Chicago- based Gas Research Institute, which spearheads new gas technology research nationwide.
    Also at the unveiling were Victor J. Lescovitz, chairman of the Pennsylvania House Business and Economic Development Committee; Allegheny County Commissioners Pete Flaherty and Larry Dunn; and senior executives of Duquesne Light, USAir, the Electric Power Research Institute and ONSI Corporation, the United Technologies subsidiary that manufactured the fuel cell.
    The fuel cell is a "natural gas battery" that never runs down, converting natural gas into electricity and heat through a noncombustion process.  Electrical energy is produced in the fuel cell without combustion, which in the burning of oil or coal to generate electricity produces pollutants such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides.
    The 200-kilowatt, PC25 model fuel cell power plant is housed in a 10- by-25-by-12-foot beige box.  It converts natural gas into 200 kilowatts of electric power plus up to 760,000 Btu per hour, which can be used for space or water heating.  The fuel cell is self-contained and designed for automatic, unattended operation.
    USAir provided the site and will use the fuel cell's thermal output to help heat one of its aircraft maintenance hangars.  Duquesne Light provided the electrical interconnect.  The Pennsylvania Energy Office and the Electric Power Research Institute provided additional funding.
    In the 1960s, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) developed the fuel cell as a reliable electric power source for man-on-the-moon missions.  Beginning with the Apollo missions of the 1960s, fuel cells have been the electric power source on every U.S. manned space mission, including the space shuttle.
    For more than two decades, Peoples Gas, through its parent Pittsburgh-based Consolidated Natural Gas Company, has studied advanced fuel cell technology together with the Gas Research Institute (GRI) and Pratt and Whitney, a division of the United Technologies Corporation, to advance fuel cell technology for earthbound use.
    /delval/
    -0-             08/05/93
    CONTACT:  Colleen Anna of Jampole Communications, 412-471-2463, for Peoples Gas CO:  PEOPLES NATURAL GAS COMPANY; CONSOLIDATED NATURAL GAS
                        COMPANY; DUQUESNE LIGHT COMPANY; PENNSYLVANIA
                        ENERGY OFFICE; USAIR


IN: OIL ST: PA

-- PG003 -- X049 08/05/93
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Aug 5, 1993
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