"The Oakville installation is the first of its kind in the world to harvest emissions from an automotive facility for use in fuel cell," said Kit Edgeworth, Ford's abatement equipment technical specialist for manufacturing. "It is the greenest technology and offers the perfect solution to the industry's biggest environmental challenge traditionally."

How it works: The system will launch with an internal combustion engine before shifting to a stationary large-scale fuel cell to boost effectiveness. The fumes from the paint solvent will get transformed into 300 kilowatts of green energy. (Carbon beads capture the VOCs for use in the fuel cell, which converts it to electricity.) According to Edgeworth, it was developed as a responsible way to remove VOCs from the painting operations' exhaust air.

The technology was launched as a pilot installation at the Dearborn Truck Plant using a 5 kilowatt DFC300MA fuel cell, which Ford purchased from Danbury, Conn.-based FuelCell Energy, Inc. A year later, Ford installed installed technology at its Michigan Truck Plant using a 50 kilowatt Stirling engine to generate electricity.

In addition, the Oakville location will launch with a 120 kilowatt internal combustion engine before shifting to the 300 kilowatt fuel cell, which is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 88% and eliminate nitrogen oxide emissions completely.

"By using the end-products of enamel and clear coat operations, we are eliminating the exhaust of thousands of tons of nitrous and sulfur oxides as well as CO2—a major greenhouse gas," said Andrew Skok, executive director of FuelCell Energy's strategic marketing. "As this application shows, the fuel flexibility of our DFC300MA opens up an entirely new, very large market for us."