August 31, 2007
Ford to Convert Paint Fumes to Electricity

Ford Motor Corp. announced Thursday it will install its patented Fumes-to-Fuel system at its Oakville, Ontario, Assembly Plant, which will convert emissions from its paint shop into electricity.

The system will launch with an internal combustion engine before shifting to a stationary large-scale fuel cell to boost effectiveness. The company will buy the DFC300MA fuel cell from manufacturer FuelCell Energy Inc. The fumes from the paint solvent will get transformed into 300 kilowatts of green energy.

"The Oakville installation is the first of its kind in the world to harvest emissions from an automotive facility for use in fuel cell," said Kit Edgeworth, Ford's abatement equipment technical specialist for Manufacturing. "It is the greenest technology and offers the perfect solution to the industry's biggest environmental challenge traditionally."

It was developed as a responsible way to remove volatile organic compounds (VOC) from the painting operations' exhaust air. Carbon beads capture the VOCs for use in the fuel cell, which converts it to electricity.

The technology was launched as a pilot installation at the Dearborn Truck Plant using a 5 kilowatt fuel cell. A year later, Ford installed installed technology at its Michigan Truck Plant using a 50 kilowatt Stirling engine to generate electricity.

The Oakville system announced Thursday will launch with a 120 kilowatt internal combustion engine before shifting to the 300 kilowatt fuel cell, which is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 88 percent and eliminate nitrogen oxide emissions completely.

"By using the end-products of enamel and clear coat operations, we are eliminating the exhaust of thousands of tons of nitrous and sulfur oxides as well as CO2 -- a major greenhouse gas," said Andrew Skok, executive director of FuelCell Energy's strategic marketing. "As this application shows, the fuel flexibility of our DFC300MA opens up an entirely new, very large market for us."

The fuel cell unit is slated to begin use early next year, and could eventually spread in use at Ford' other plants.

Also on Thursday, the company said it is developing a new environmentally friendly anti-corrosion technology that reduces water use in automotive paint shops by nearly half, and lowers sludge production by 90 percent.

It is currently being field-tested on a small fleet of Lincoln Town Cars. It uses a zirconium oxide vehicle bath instead of the traditional zinc phosphate bath, which contains heavy metals such as zinc, nickel and manganese.