PPG shows off latest earth-friendly technology

Moments after giving a demonstration of PPG Industries Inc.'s electromagnetic coatings Tuesday, Thor Lingenfelder summed up the driving force behind his work and that of another 800 researchers who work for the coatings, glass and chemicals giant at three facilities in suburban Pittsburgh.

"Hopefully in the next few years what we're working on will be what you're hearing about," Lingenfelder said during a stop at his lab on a tour of PPG's coatings research center in Allison Park.

PPG gave architects and trade journal writers who are in town for the U.S. Green Building Council's annual convention a glimpse of some of its more environmentally friendly technologies. The daylong tour yesterday made stops at the coatings facility and a glass research center in Harmarville.

The Pittsburgh-based company also has a similar chemicals research facility in Monroeville.

The Green Building Council's annual convention opens today at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. The event is expected to attract 5,000 developers, architects, builders and planners who are interested in environmentally friendly building techniques.

In addition to showing off products that are environmentally friendly --- like powdered paints that use less material and recycled glass products -- the tour offered a glimpse of PPG's massive research-and-development operation, which has a budget of about $300 million per year.

The company bills itself as a company that can develop basic research and take it to the market. For example, for its SunClean Self-Cleaning Glass windows, PPG did not perform the basic research on the nano-technology behind the product, but was able to develop the concept and product.

The company's international sales manager for flat glass products, Hugh A. Prytherch, is now in his 40th year with the company. During the 1960s, he worked at the Ohio facility where a now familiar technology -- a hybrid radio antennae and defroster for rear windshields -- was developed.

Today, similar systems are more efficient and power television antennas and global positioning systems.

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