A detail from the Ford informaitonal pdf. Image courtesy of Ford.

How rocket science empowers Ford's EcoBoost engines

Ford is using a superalloy developed for use in Space Shuttle engines to extend the temperature limits of the turbochargers for the Ford Fusion and Focus ST EcoBoost engines. It may not be a rocket ship, but it has learned a thing or two from one.

The fuel efficiency of Ford's EcoBoost engine comes from using the motor's exhaust flow to spin a turbine wheel at speeds up to 150,000 rpms, compressing air to create a more forceful explosion in the cylinder. The consequence is a component that functions at high temperatures and intense levels of physical stress.

So Ford partnered up with BorgWarner to extend the functioning, durability and resistance to thermal fatigue of the turbochargers for 2.0-liter EcoBoost variants, selecting the materials offering the best long-term performance commercially available for the turbine wheel.

The alloy selected for this purpose has withstood the temperature and reliability requirements of space flight. The superalloy was previously used for both the high-pressure fuel turbo pump as well as elements of the high-pressure oxidizer turbo pump on the Space Shuttle's main engine.

The 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine in the Edge and Explorer models has a maximum heat limit of 970 degrees Celsius (that's 1,778 degrees Fahrenheit) for the turbine wheel. For the new 2.0-liter EcoBoost used in the Fusion and Focus ST, the combination of nickel, tungsten and cobalt developed by rocket science creates a maximum heat ceiling of 1,050 degrees Celsius or 1,922 degrees Fahrenheit.

Who knew these impressive little cars run so hot?

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Comments

Eureka! Put some fins and a gravity toilet in the Escape EcoBoost and BAM! The next space shuttle! NASA is saved!

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