The vans, built at Ford’s Kansas City Assembly Plant, use a two-wet monocoat paint process developed by Ford and its paint suppliers.
The process reduces painting time and energy use by cutting the number of paint applications from three to two and the number of drying procedures from two to one. Ford expects the reduction in paint and energy consumed to result in 9,500 tons fewer carbon dioxide emissions and a 35-ton savings in particulate emissions on an annual basis.
A conventional paint process uses water filtration — known as a wet scrubber system — to remove the overspray from the air in the paint booth, which produces sludge. The new dry scrubber system, however, pumps the air through a filter containing limestone that can be recycled. The dry scrubber system alone reduces energy use and carbon dioxide emissions by 44 percent, cuts particulate emissions by 99 percent and uses 75 percent less water annually.
Ford says the dry scrubber system will help save more than 10.5 million gallons of water. The company projects the overall system should save 48,000 MWh of electrical power.
Additionally, the paint was tested for its resistance to chipping and scratching, pollutants and sun exposure. Advanced weathering testing indicates that paint applied with the new two-wet technology will retain 90 percent of its gloss at four years in service compared to 1 percent gloss retention for paint applied using a conventional monocoat process, Ford says.
In April Ford said it would expand its 3-Wet paint capacity by 50 percent this year, adding the environmentally friendly process to four more plants on three continents. It expects the process to reduce CO2 emissions between 15 and 25 percent at those facilities. Ford says it was the first automaker to implement the 3-Wet high-solids solvent-borne technology in 2007.