September 5, 2007

Ford installs new Fumes-to-Fuel system at Canadian auto plant

Ford has installed the latest generation of its Fumes-to-Fuel pollution control system at it's Oakville, Ontario plant
Ford has installed the latest generation of its Fumes-to-Fuel pollution control system at it’s Oakville, Ontario plant. Click image to enlarge

Dearborn, Michigan – Ford has installed the third generation of its patented Fumes-to-Fuel pollution control system at its Oakville Assembly Plant in Oakville, Ontario. The system converts emissions from the paint shop into electricity to help power the plant.

The Oakville system will launch with an internal combustion engine and, after a year of testing and further development, will migrate to a stationary, large-scale fuel cell. The fuel cell system is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 88 per cent, and eliminate nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions.

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

The system uses carbon beads to remove volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the painting operations’ exhaust air; the VOCs are then released from the carbon beads and processed for use in the fuel cell, which converts them into electricity.

Ford launched its Fumes-to-Fuel technology in 2004 with a pilot installation at its Dearborn Truck Plant in Michigan. That project used a 5 kW fuel cell and served as a temporary test site for Ford engineers. The following year, a new generation of technology was installed at Michigan Truck Plant in Wayne, Michigan, using a 50 kW Stirling engine to generate electricity; that system continues to operate. The Oakville system will launch with a 120 kW internal combustion engine and will migrate to a 300 kW fuel cell.

In a separate statement, Ford also announced that it is developing a new anti-corrosion technology that cuts water use in automotive paint shops by almost half, and decreases the production of sludge by 90 per cent. Pre-treatment is critical to the paint process, as it helps prevent rust and corrosion on the vehicle body.

The new technology, currently being field tested on a small fleet of Lincoln Town Cars, reduces the process from thirteen to eight steps, and uses a zirconium oxide vehicle bath, which does not contain heavy metals found in the phosphate bath currently used. The system provides a 40 per cent savings in water usage and does not require heated water. Field tests will continue through 2008, when the company will determine its rollout plans to paint shops across North America.

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