The paint fumes contain volatile organic compounds which act as greenhouse gases and pollutants. Typically, these gases would be incinerated, which while better than leaving the VOCs alone, still produces excessive amounts of carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide.
Ford has developed a much cleaner process to dispose of the gases.
Fords system converts the gases into fuel then fed through a molten carbonate fuel cell to produce about 300 kWh of electricity-about what it takes to power 100 homes. The process reduces carbon emissions by 88 percent and eliminates nitrogen oxides entirely.
The Oakville stationary fuel-cell system is the first of its kind worldwide to harvest emissions from an automotive facility, said Matthew Daraskavich, the paint-systems engineer at the factory. Fumes-to-fuel has the potential to significantly reduce manufacturings emissions in an environmentally sustainable process. It is very exciting in terms of its potential future applications to manufacturing.