This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

July 06, 2005

U.S. Automakers and EPA to Cut Energy Use in Assembly Plants

While vehicle fuel economy ratings provide a clear standard of comparison for U.S. automakers, historically they've had no simple way to compare the energy efficiency of their assembly plants, where they collectively spend $700 million per year for energy. That all changed in late June, when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiled a new rating system that compares the energy efficiency of a U.S. assembly plant producing any type of vehicle to that of the entire industry. With support from DOE's Argonne National Laboratory, the EPA and U.S. automakers developed the Energy Star Automobile Assembly Plant Energy Performance Indicator, which is now available on the Energy Star Web site. The Web site also includes a report from DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory that examines opportunities for saving energy in assembly plants. See the EPA press release and the "Motor Vehicle Manufacturing Focus" page of the Energy Star Web site.

Ford Motor Company has found one way to save energy in its assembly plants: the company recovers the fumes from its paint shops and converts them into electricity. Ford's "fumes to fuel" technology, developed in partnership with Detroit Edison, concentrates the exhaust fumes and burns them in a combustion engine, which drives a generator. In the past, Ford has also worked with Fuel Cell Technologies, Inc. (FCT) to fuel a solid-oxide fuel cell with the fumes. See the Ford press release and the July 2003 press release from FCT.