CLAYCOMO, Mo.—Ford Motor Co. has launched an industry-first paint technology the automaker claims will cut 8,600 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from its Kansas City assembly facility each year.
Launched in conjunction with production of the all-new Ford Transit commercial van, the new two-wet monocoat paint process results in a more durable paint finish, uses less energy and water, and reduces carbon dioxide and particulate emissions compared with conventional automotive painting, according to the automaker.
The application process uses an innovative dry scrubber system Ford claims will help the Missouri plant save more than 39.7 million litres of water annually.
A conventional paint process uses water filtration—known as a wet scrubber system—to remove overspray from the air in the paint booth that produces sludge.
But the new dry scrubber system pumps air through a filter containing limestone that can be recycled.
The dry scrubber system alone reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 44 per cent, cuts particulate emissions by 99 per cent and uses 75 per cent less water annually, according to Ford.
The system will also save roughly 48,000 megawatt hours of electricity—enough to power 3,400 homes in the United States.
The reduction in paint and energy consumed is expected to result in 8,600 tonnes fewer carbon dioxide emissions and a 32-tonne savings in particulate emissions each year.
Running through an electrostatically-bonded corrosion-resistance bath, known as an E-coat, the van’s body stays on one carrier where it is dipped in and out of the bath at steep angles, reducing the length of the bath by as much as 320 ft., before moving on to the paint booth.
The entire Transit paint operation uses less space than that used during production of the compact Ford Fiesta, the automaker said.
“The two-wet monocoat process allows us to design a system considerably smaller than a conventional paint shop, especially with regard to a vehicle of this size and complexity,” Ford global paint engineering development and launch supervisor Dennis Havlin said in a statement.
“Because painting time is cut down, the technology enables greater productivity using less equipment.”
Using a primer coat that requires only a few minutes of open-air drying time before the colour coat is applied, the colour coat is formulated with the same appearance and protection properties of the clear coat, eliminating the need for a separate clear coat.
The total process removes one paint application step—reducing the number of coats from three to two—and one oven drying step—from two to one—when compared to conventional paint processes, according to Ford.
Using the new process, Ford said early tests show a paint job will retain 90 per cent of its gloss after four years compared to just one per cent with a conventional monocoat process.
“Durability was a critical consideration when we initiated this project,” Havlin said. “The advancements in paint chemistry enable us to deliver the appearance, performance and durability our customers demand.”
The new paint procedure is currently being used for white-coloured Transit vans only, which account for 80 per cent of production at the Kansas plant.
Ford said applying the technology to other colours, which means developing unique systems for each, will be considered on an on-demand basis.