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Ford installs third giant wind turbine at Dagenham Diesel Engine Assembly Line in the UK  (Source: Ford)
Wind power generates enough electricity to run thousands of homes each year

Ford may be making headlines with its EcoBoost V6 engines which power vehicles ranging from the Flex to the F-150, but the company is also looking to go green with its factories.

Ford has added a new wind turbine to reduce the amount of electricity it uses from conventional sources and improve its annual CO2 footprint. The addition of a new wind turbine at the Dagenham Diesel Engine Assembly line in the UK will improve Ford's CO2 savings from 2,500 tons to 5,000 tons per year.

The turbines at the diesel assembly line will allow the plant to be fully powered by wind by this month. The new turbine is the third on the premises. The plant needed the third turbine after adding a Duratorq TDCi engine line. The two existing turbines generate 5.92 million kWh of electricity each year. That is enough power for 1,794 homes. The third turbine makes for a total annual generation of 11.4 million kWh. The installation began in May of 2011 with the laying of groundwork and the new turbine was installed and is now operational.

“Since 2000, we have reduced our global operational energy use by 30 per cent and CO2 emissions from our facilities by 39 per cent,” said Ken Macfarlane, Vice President Manufacturing, Ford of Europe. “Globally Ford is committed to continue leading the way in environmental responsibility, whether with the vehicles and powertrains we make or through the processes we use to make them.”

The two existing turbines are gigantic with a height of 150 meters each. Ford also uses renewable energy at other locations in Europe -- Ford’s Genk Plant in Belgium has two wind turbines and many other Ford facilities use green energy (such as solar).

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RE: Back to the future...
By Solandri on 8/16/2011 3:08:15 PM , Rating: 5
Seriously, HYDROGEN FUEL CELLS people.

The problem with hydrogen as a fuel is that it is not an energy source, it's an energy storage medium - aka a manufactured fuel. It's exceedingly rare to encounter gaseous hydrogen (H2) here on earth, so you have to make it from other energy sources. Creating it via electrolysis usually results in a real-world efficiency of only about 50% (about half the energy creates hydrogen gas, the other half is wasted as heat). Multiply that by the efficiency of your electricity source, say 40% for a coal-powered electrical plant, and the resulting 20% efficiency is actually lower than the ~30% efficiency of an internal combustion engine. All the pie in the sky stories about the only waste product being water completely ignores how the hydrogen itself is actually made.

Unfortunately, hydrogen is also a rather poor energy storage medium:

- It has very low volumetric energy density, requiring outlandish levels of compression (several thousand or tens of thousands of PSI) or cryogenic refrigeration to achieve volumetric energy densities associated with fuels like gasoline.

- Due to the hydrogen atom being so small, gaseous hydrogen (H2) will leak through openings too small for any other molecule. A seal which is watertight and airtight will frequently leak hydrogen like a sieve. This makes it considerably more difficult to manufacture hydrogen pumps, hoses, and seals.

- Its main advantage is weight. Hydrogen by far has the highest energy density by mass (assuming you can pull oxygen from the atmosphere). Unfortunately, few terrestrial applications can leverage this advantage. It's mostly the aerospace industry which benefits from it.

The obvious solution to these drawbacks of hydrogen is not to manufacture it, and to use hydrogen stored in a different chemical form. Methane (CH4, aka natural gas) is a common example. You can ship methane in its bulk form to a factory where it can be burned, thus eliminating the expensive electrolysis step. Its molecule is bigger, making it easier to make seals. And by attaching 4 hydrogens to a single carbon, you increase its volumetric energy density at a small cost to energy per hydrogen atom. It's still a gas, but it contains more energy per liter than raw hydrogen gas.

That's why hydrogen fuel cell research has started looking into alternative hydrogen sources - methane, ammonia, methanol, etc. But here's the catch. We know we want a fuel which contains a lot of hydrogen per liter, preferably without compression or refrigeration. And we don't want to lose too much energy potential (e.g. H2O has the same energy potential as H2O as a waste product, so is useless as a fuel). If you sift through the huge list of known chemicals for matches to these criteria, guess what's at the top of the list?

Gasoline, kerosene, diesel, alcohols. Stuff we already use as fuels.

"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA
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