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New FORD enviromentally friendly technology cuts water use, nearly eliminates paint sludge


DEARBORN, Mich.– Ford Motor Company is developing a new environmentally friendly anti-corrosion technology that cuts water use in automotive paint shops by almost half and decreases the production of sludge by a full 90 percent.

The new technology, currently being field-tested on a small fleet of Lincoln Town Cars, takes the entire pre-treatment process down to eight steps from the current 13 parts of the conventional pre-treatment process. Pre-treatment is critical to the paint process because it helps prevent rust and corrosion on the vehicle body.

The new process uses a zirconium oxide vehicle bath, which is more environmentally friendly than the currently used zinc phosphate. This is because zirconium oxide doesn’t contain the heavy metals – zinc, nickel, manganese – found in the phosphate bath.

As a result, there’s a 40 percent savings in water usage and significantly less waste to be processed into non-hazardous sludge and taken to landfills. Additionally, it doesn’t require heated water to work, saving energy costs.

“Pre-treatment is an important anti-corrosion step in the paint process, but the conventional method is harder on the environment,” said Tim Weingartz, manager, Paint Materials and Strategy, Ford Motor Company. “With this new pretreatment technology, Ford continues to lead the industry in environmental solutions to manufacturing processes.”

Plus, zirconium oxide covers the sheet metal with a uniform film versus the crystal-like structures of the phosphate system. This offers the potential for more robust corrosion resistance.

Field tests will continue through 2008 when Ford will determine its rollout plans to paint shops in North America.


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