Automakers have many ways to power their factories, but Ford's plant in Oakville, Ontario - soon to be building the 2009 Ford Flex - has an innovative fuel source: paint fumes.
The factory uses what Ford calls a "Fumes-to-Fuel" system, which attempts to recycle energy by capturing noxious fumes from the factory's paint shop. A series of carbon beads are installed in the shop's exhaust, stripping any volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the air. The VOCs are then diverted to a 2,000-gallon holding tank.
From there, the compounds are fed into a fuel cell, where they're catalyzed to produce electricity. The fuel cell stack in Oakville is rated for 300 kW, but reportedly will produce nearly 1500 kW each day - enough to power 150 homes.
By recycling the electricity back into the factory, Ford expects to reduce Oakville's carbon dioxide emissions by 88 percent, and virtually eliminate nitrogen oxide emissions altogether.