HARTFORD, Conn., Dec. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, the Connecticut Science Center, located in downtown Hartford, became the first science center or museum in the country to generate the majority of its energy needs on-site with a fuel cell.* The UTC Power fuel cell technology -- developed in Connecticut -- will generate almost 100% of the electricity demanded by the Science Center on an annual basis. During operating hours, the fuel cell provides approximately two-thirds of the needed power for the downtown Hartford destination. When the Science Center's power demand is less, the 200-kilowatt fuel cell transfers energy back into the power grid system. The cumulative effect will result in almost 100% of the energy used being created by the clean, environmentally-friendly energy source. As an added benefit, the fuel cell will provide back-up power. The fuel cell is wrapped in educational graphics which help to explain the technologies used, thus becoming one of the over 150 exhibits, including an entire exhibit gallery (Energy City) dedicated to emerging energies, at the Science Center.
The historical commissioning ceremony was highlighted by Congressman John B. Larson, a long-time proponent of fuel cell technologies, along with Connecticut Clean Energy Fund President Lise Dondy and others. The ceremony marked the culmination of a two-month installation period that began when the fuel cell, manufactured by Connecticut-based UTC Power, was delivered to the Science Center on October 1, 2009.
"I congratulate the Connecticut Science Center, UTC Power, Connecticut Clean Energy Fund, and all of the partners that made this historic day possible. Fuel cells are a proven technology vital to our state and nation's efforts to invest in American made clean energy technologies and reduce our reliance on foreign oil," said Congressman John B. Larson. "This is a smart investment that will have vast economic and environmental benefits for the region."
During Larson's tenure in Congress, he has secured federal funding for CT Transit's zero-emission Fuel Cell-Hybrid bus, the first of its kind in the East Coast, as well as introduced the Energy Independence Act and the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology Authorization Act to fund and promote fuel cells as a means to end U.S. dependence on foreign oil, grow the economy and improve our environment.
Fuel cells are among the cleanest energy-generation sources available in the world today and meet the strictest U.S. emissions standards. Fuel cells combine hydrogen and oxygen in an electrochemical process to produce electricity, heat and water. A hydrogen-rich fuel is derived from natural gas in a non-combustion process called reforming.
"Having a fuel cell at the Connecticut Science Center affords a wonderful opportunity to educate the public and especially the visiting students on the merits of clean, made-in-Connecticut technology," said J. Michael McQuade, UTC Senior Vice President, Science and Technology. "United Technologies is extremely proud of its role in helping to make the Science Center a reality so future generations of scientists and engineers can be inspired to create the next advancements in technology."
Connecticut Science Center's Commitment to being 'GREEN'
By generating clean power on site and then recovering the heat from the electrochemical reaction, the Connecticut Science Center is able to reduce the burden on the New England power grid and its impact on the environment by preventing the release of more than 270 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually. The environmental benefit is equivalent to planting 63 acres of forest to mitigate an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide. For more information, go to CTScienceCenter.org/energy.
Using a fuel cell for clean energy is only one of numerous initiatives of the new Connecticut Science Center in its commitment to minimizing its carbon footprint. The Science Center is anticipating a Gold Level LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The USGBC is the premier "Green Building" agency created in 1993 to transform the way buildings and communities are designed, built and operated, enabling an environmentally and socially responsible, healthy, and prosperous environment that improves the quality of life.
"A commitment to the environment and minimizing our carbon footprint is essential for the Connecticut Science Center," states Matt Fleury, President and CEO of the Science Center. Fleury continues, "Just as important, our educational exhibits and programs show you how their promising new technologies work, and how science plays a part in helping us solve energy and other issues." Additional environmentally friendly "green" initiatives taken by the Science Center include light sensors which detect natural lighting and adjust interior lighting to save energy; a rooftop garden and over 95% of the steel used to build the Science Center being made from recycled automobiles!
Not only is Connecticut one of the driving forces behind clean energy, but the technologies used to create power from a fuel cell were first developed in the Nutmeg state. Established in 2000, the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund (CCEF) has already funded more than $100 million in clean energy projects. CCEF made a grant in the amount of $613,000 to support the Science Center fuel cell. Having hydrogen-powered, distributed energy is critical to Connecticut's future, according to the Clean Energy Fund.
"We are delighted to have helped make this fuel cell installation possible," said Lise Dondy, president of CCEF. "This installation, in concert with the fuel cell exhibit in the Energy City gallery, demonstrates that the science center is practicing what it preaches - that we should embrace emerging, clean energy technologies, as they are vital and beneficial to mankind and the environment."
About the Connecticut Science Center
The Connecticut Science Center, located in downtown Hartford, sparks creative imagination and an appreciation for science by immersing visitors in fun and educational hands-on, minds-on interactive experiences. Visitors experience over 150 exhibits in ten galleries and a range of topics, including space and earth sciences, physical sciences, biology, the Connecticut River watershed, Connecticut inventors and innovations, a children's gallery, and much more. Other features include four educational labs, a 200-seat 3D digital cinema, function room, gift store and cafe, and ongoing events and lectures for all ages. The Science Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing science education throughout the state of Connecticut and New England, providing learning opportunities for students and adults of all ages, and engaging the community in scientific exploration. More information: www.CTScienceCenter.org or 860.SCIENCE.
About UTC Power:
UTC Power is part of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX), which provides energy-efficient products and services to the aerospace and building industries. UTC is a founding member of the U.S. Green Building Council and the Pew Center on Global Climate Change and has been named to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index each year since it was launched in 1999. Based in South Windsor, Conn., UTC Power is the world leader in developing and producing fuel cells that generate energy for buildings and for transportation, space and defense applications.
About the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund (CCEF):
CCEF was created by the Connecticut General Assembly and is funded by the electric ratepayers. CCEF's mission is to promote, develop and invest in clean energy sources for the benefit of Connecticut's ratepayers in order to strengthen Connecticut's economy, protect community health, improve the environment, and promote a secure energy supply for the state. CCEF is administered by Connecticut Innovations, a quasi-public authority. For more information on CCEF, please visit www.ctcleanenergy.com.
About the Connecticut Energy Foundation:
The Connecticut Energy Foundation is administered by the CT Natural Gas company, and supports energy-related projects in Connecticut. They provided $100,000 toward the cost of the fuel cell.
*Source: Fuel Cells 2000, a nonprofit, educational organization based in Washington, D.C., with a database of fuel cell installations worldwide.
Connecticut Science Center Media Contacts: Ed Main (EMain@CTScienceCenter.org) 860.520.2120 Aaron Wartner (AWartner@CTScienceCenter.org) 860.967.5520 UTC Power: Peg Hashem (Peg.Hashem@utcpower.com) 860.727.2093
SOURCE Connecticut Science Center