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DRIVING AMERICAN INNOVATION: FORD TURNS
PAINT FUMES INTO ELECTRICITY TO HELP POWER PLANT
Fords Fumes-to-Fuel system at the
Michigan Truck Plant generates 55 kilowatt hours of electric
power every hour enough for an average city block.
- Fumes-to-Fuel could save one-third to
one-half the cost of traditional incineration of volatile
organic compounds (VOCs).
- Fumes-to-Fuel technology is available
for licensing by other industries.
DEARBORN, Mich., Dec. 1, 2005 - A leader in
environmental innovation, Ford Motor Company is turning paint
fumes into fuel, saving energy and money. Piloted in 2004 at the
Ford Rouge Center, Fumes-to-Fuel is turning emissions from its
painting operations into electricity for the Michigan Truck plant.
The Fumes-to-Fuel process generates 55
kilowatt-hours of electric power every hour enough for an
average city block. Ultimately, the system could power one-third
of the plant's paint shop. The technology works by pulling
volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the paint air emissions by
using fluidized carbon beads. The cleansed air emissions are then
sent back into the environment. The scrubbed VOCs are sent to a
generator where they are transformed into electricity.
For years, Ford, like other automakers, has
been siphoning off the fumes from its paint booths and
incinerating them in natural gas-fired furnaces at temperatures
of up to 1400 degrees Fahrenheit. Incinerators, which cost
millions of dollars to build and install, consume an enormous
amount of energy--about 350 kilowatt-hours per hour.
The Fumes-to-Fuel system costs less to
install and maintain than existing furnaces, it virtually
eliminates carbon dioxide emissions and it enables the use of
higher-quality, solvent-based paint. Fumes-to-Fuel technology
could be used by any business that produces light hydrocarbon
emissions, such as the furniture and electronics business.
Mark Wherrett, one of the designers of
Fumes-to-Fuel technology, has spent his entire Ford career
helping assembly plants meet environmental regulations. "I
have worked on other Ford projects where the team helped change
legislation in other countries that benefited the environment,"
said Wherrett. "However, to take something that used to be
considered waste and turn it into fuel that makes electricity and
really moves the environmental needle, that is extremely
The Fumes-to-Fuel technology, developed in
conjunction with DTE Energy, won an Environmental Protection
Agency Clean Air Excellence Award in 2004. Fumes-to-Fuel
technology will be implemented in other plants as equipment is
updated and replaced.