With full production of Ford's new Flex crossover kicking off this week, the Dearborn automaker is cleaning up the plant's emissions and generating electricity at the same time. The Flex is built at the Oakville Assembly Plant west of Toronto that also builds the Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX. Oakville is implementing the first full scale application of fumes-to-fuel. Emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC) from the plant's paint shop are being absorbed by carbon beads in a 2,000 gallon storage tank. The beads are then processed to release the VOCs which are then transformed into fuel for a fuel cell that generates electricity. Ford began testing a demonstration version of this system at its Dearborn Truck plant in 2004 with a 5kW fuel cell system and, later, a 50kW sterling engine. The new system going into operation at the Oakville plant will have a 300kW fuel cell that produces enough power for 150 homes. The new system will eliminate 88 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions from the paint shop and virtually all of the NOx emissions.

[Source: Ford]


  • Ford's Fumes-to-Fuel system at Oakville Assembly Complex is turning emissions into a source of 'green' fuel.
  • The fuel cell-powered system is expected to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 88 percent and eliminate nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions as compared to traditional technology.
  • At full production, the system is expected to produce about 1,500 kilowatts of renewable energy each day, which is enough to power approximately 150 homes.

OAKVILLE, Ont., June 3, 2008 – Ford's Oakville Assembly Complex (OAC) in Ontario, Canada, will begin producing 'green' energy this summer through the use of the company's patented Fumes-to-Fuel system, an eco-friendly, industry-leading pollution-control system that converts emissions from the plant's paint shop into electricity to help power the plant.

The experimental Fumes-to-Fuel system at OAC already is turning emissions from the plant's paint shop into useable fuel, which will later be used to power a fuel cell that generates electricity. The system is expected to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the plant by 88 percent and eliminate nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions as compared to traditional technology.

"We're right on schedule and confident in the system's capability," said Kit Edgeworth, Oakville's manufacturing abatement equipment technical specialist. "We've learned a lot from the Fumes to Fuel system at Dearborn Truck Plant in Michigan, and we've put all of the lessons learned into practice at Oakville Assembly."

Edgeworth added that at full production Oakville should be able to produce approximately 1,500 kilowatts of energy per day, which is enough to power approximately 150 homes.

OAC has already begun collecting fuel from fumes in its 7,569-litre storage tank, and is completing work on the reformation system that will prepare the fuel for use in a fuel cell.

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

Fumes-to-Fuel was developed as an environmentally responsible technology to remove Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) from the painting operation's exhaust air.

Carbon beads are used to capture the VOCs, resulting in clean exhaust air. The VOCs are then released from the carbon beads and processed for use in the fuel cell. The fuel cell converts the VOCs into electricity.

In 2004, Ford launched its Fumes-to-Fuel technology with a pilot installation at the Dearborn Truck Plant. That project used a 5 kilowatt fuel cell and served as a temporary test site for Ford engineers. The following year, Ford installed a new generation of technology at Michigan Truck Plant (MTP) in Wayne, Mich., using a 50 kilowatt Stirling engine to generate electricity. The MTP system continues to operate.

By comparison, the Oakville Assembly Complex system will migrate to a 300 kilowatt fuel cell.

"The Oakville system takes Ford's Fumes-to-Fuel technology to the next level," said Edgeworth. "We're in a great position to use this technology to reduce our impact on the environment by reducing air pollution and producing 'green' energy."

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