Even though Ford's current EcoBoost system has gotten a lot of positive feedback, they have already started working on the next iteration of the system. The project has been code-named Bobcat and it is moving through the stages of design very quickly.
The current EcoBoost system, which will be seen on the 2009 model year vehicles, is said to provide up to 20% better efficiency by using a direct injected engine with a properly engineered turbo system. The result is a smaller engine that can provide the same amount of power as a larger engine. Seeing the success of this, Ford wanted to go a step farther, and the "Bobcat" was born.
"Bobcat" will be based on the current EcoBoost system, but by using direct Ethanol Injection, Ford thinks they can squeeze another 5% or 10% increase in fuel economy out of the engine. The idea was developed by Ethanol Boosting Systems (EBS) LLC of Cambridge, Massachusetts, which is where the initial estimates came from.
The design calls for a small turbocharged engine that has a separate set of fuel injectors, one for the fuel and one for the ethanol, going into each cylinder. The first set of injectors will pump fuel into the combustion chamber where it will mix with compressed air. The second injector will add in a small amount of ethanol that will regulate the temperature inside the chamber.
The need to control the temperature comes as a result of increased turbo pressure. As pressure increases, so does temperature. When a certain point is reached, premature detonation can occur, which can be heard as engine knock. Ethanol will keep the temperature below this threshold.
This will mean that any vehicle equipped with the system will need two fuel tanks, but EBS has said that such a small amount of ethanol is needed for combustion that the tank will only need to be filled every few months.
The main benefit of using direct ethanol injection is the ability to increase the amount of pressure applied by the turbocharger. The EcoBoost system has already decreased the displacement needed to adequately power larger cars and SUV's. By adding in the direct ethanol injection, they can be made even smaller without compromising power.
For example, a 5.0 liter V8 with the EcoBoost and Ethanol Injection system equipped could be made to produce in excess of 500 horsepower and 700 pound-feet of torque. This kind of power would also come without the massive drop in fuel economy normally associated with comparable power figures.
The "Bobcat" engine has been estimated to cost somewhere in the $1,100 range, if you are planning on buying a new vehicle. If you want to have ethanol-boost technology added to an EcoBoost engine, it will set you back $400. Ford is hoping that the "Bobcat" engine will become a viable alternative to larger diesel engines in their full-sized and heavy-duty trucks. Even though they will both offer about the same fuel economy, replacement parts will cost much less.
The first prototype "Bobcat" engines should be ready for testing before the end of the year. There are, however, no official plans for production.
Sources : PickUpTrucks-Bobcat , PickUpTrucks-EcoBoost , AutoNews