Ever considered the environmental waste that was created when the factory painted your car? I hadn’t, but I should. Automakers around the world collect and incinerate 70 million pounds of paint fumes every year from their factories, along with 44 million pounds of paint overspray. The incineration uses as much as 350 kilowatts of energy per hour.
Instead of using energy to deal with the fumes, Ford is pioneering a method of getting energy from the fumes. The company is using their Rouge Center in Dearborn, Michigan and another plant to test a fumes-to-fuel concept which converts the volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, from the paint fumes into fuel.
Ford is experimenting with different ways to use the fuel. At the Rouge plant the hydrocarbons from the process are turned into hydrogen rich gas, which is then turned into power in a fuel cell. At a truck plant in Michigan the gas is fed into a combustion engine which generates 55 kilowatts per hour, which is enough to power a city block.
Besides being effective, the systems are also cheaper than existing incinerators to install. Ford will soon beginning rolling the concept out to other plants.