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."