Portland, Ore., office building demonstrates use of microturbine

PORTLAND, Ore., Oct. 10, 2002 — An office building at 200 Market Street in downtown Portland, Ore., literally features a window into the future of clean energy, allowing visitors to see the inner workings of a refrigerator-sized appliance called a “microturbine” that uses natural gas to generate some of the office building’s electric power.

The 30-kilowatt microturbine, manufactured by Capstone Turbine, generates enough power to run the 18-story building’s night and emergency lights. Its efficiency is further enhanced because waste heat runs a chiller, which creates air conditioning from heat, rather than electricity.

“The ability of office buildings, retail stores, hotels and other commercial and industrial facilities to generate their own reliable supply of electricity with minimal pollution is revolutionizing the energy industry. Some people have dubbed microturbines and fuel cells as ‘magic in a box’ because they provide highly reliable power with virtually no harmful emissions,” said Walter Woods, managing director, commercial markets for the American Gas Association.

Fuel cells use an electrochemical process to directly convert chemical energy into electricity and hot water. The chemical energy typically comes from the hydrogen contained in natural gas. Fuel cells operate virtually pollution-free. The American Gas Association represents 187 local energy utility companies that deliver natural gas to more than 52 million homes, businesses and industries throughout the United States.

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