Chrysler Finds New Use for Paint Waste

Chrysler Finds New Use for Paint Waste

Chrysler's two St. Louis assembly plants used to send about a million pounds of dried paint solids to landfills each year.

Now that waste has a new fate as an alternative fuel for a nearby electric utility plant where it has the potential to remove nearly all mercury from the plant's coal-based emissions.

Chrysler teamed with Ameren Corp.'s Meramec plant and Washington University in St. Louis to test the paint residue's ability to control mercury emissions.

The 855-megawatt plant is the only facility in the U.S. to burn automotive paint solids to generate electricity. Right now, the paint solids replace about 570 tons of coal per year to generate enough electricity for 70 homes.

"Our 'Paint to Power' program in St. Louis is a recycling success story. Rather than filling up scarce landfill space, we are using these paint wastes to produce power for St. Louis residents and businesses," said Deb Morrissett, Vice President of Regulatory Affairs at Chrysler.

The residue contains titanium dioxide, which is chemically bonded to mercury in a process called chemisorption. Dr. Pratim Biswas, chair of the Department of Energy, Environmental and Chemical Engineering at the university, have shown that the nanostructured titanium dioxide can remove mercury with 95 percent efficiency or better because its easier to trap in the plant's emissions scrubber system.

The move could help utilities meet U.S. requirements for cutting mercury emissions from power plants.