March 25, 2004
Ford’s “Fume-to-Fuel” process wins award
Dearborn, Michigan – Ford Motor Company is receiving a Clean Air Excellence Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its innovative Fumes-to-Fuel process that turns paint fumes into hydrogen fuel to create electricity.
Ford’s process, in place at the Ford Rouge Centre, was selected in the EPA’s Clean Air Technology category from among 120 applications and was cited for its “impact, innovation and replicability.”
“The Fumes-to-Fuel project at the Rouge is about both lean manufacturing and environmental stewardship,” said Jim Padilla, Ford executive vice president and president of the Americas. “The common thread in these philosophies is the elimination of waste. And one of the exciting things about this technology is that it’s not limited to the automotive industry.”
Installed in the Paint Shop of the Ford Rouge Centre, the Fumes-to-Fuel pilot system was developed by Ford and Detroit Edison. The system captures the volatile organic compounds – or VOCs – found in paint fumes, and concentrates them into a rich mixture of hydrocarbons, which are a source of fuel. The mixture then is fed into a reformer that turns it into a hydrogen-rich gas. From there, the gas is fed into a stack of solid oxide fuel cells, where a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen creates electricity, water vapor and a trace amount of carbon dioxide.
The Ford Rouge Center Paint Shop pilot generates about 5,000 watts of electricity – enough to power an average home. A larger Fumes-to-Fuel system, to be installed later this year, will have the capacity to generate more than 100,000 watts.
“The Fumes-to-Fuel project is a sustainable business solution that improves the environment by substantially improving emissions. At the same time, it improves business by reducing fuel costs incurred by traditional incineration methods and actually generates usable energy from a waste product,” said Tim O’Brien, Ford vice president, Corporate Relations.
While engineers and scientists in Ford’s Environmental Quality Office and Scientific Research Laboratories developed, tested and successfully installed the Fumes-to-Fuel system pilot, the project is the result of a collaborative effort between several entities, including Ford, Detroit Edison, Fuel Cell Technologies, Ltd. of Kingston, Ontario, Climate Technologies, and the State of Michigan (Public Service Commission), which provided partial funding for the project through its Energy Efficiency Grant Program.