dearborn -- Ford’s new high-performance, fuel-saving EcoBoost™ technology is making waves in the engineering community, with the 3.5-liter version of the engine contributing 125 new patents and patent applications. The additions build on Ford Motor Company’s current roster of 4,618 active U.S. patents, with thousands more patent applications pending.
EcoBoost powertrain management innovations make up the bulk of the technology’s patents and patent applications. But only those advancements that contribute to cutting-edge engineering make the leap from implementation to invention.
“We focus on getting high-quality patents that have the best breakthrough potential for the company,” says Bill Coughlin, president and CEO of Ford Global Technologies, a wholly owned Ford subsidiary responsible for managing Ford’s intellectual property worldwide.
The strategy is paying off: A 2008 study by the world’s leading patent analyst, The Patent Board™ , found Ford outperformed all other automakers in the quality and significance of its technology patents.
“Ford’s patented technologies are closer to the cutting edge than its competitors,” says Christine Wren, director of business development for The Patent Board, which tracks and analyzes patents across 17 industries globally.
The recently introduced 2010 Ford Fusion and Fusion Hybrid, which is America’s most fuel-efficient midsize sedan, have 119 patents to date and more are pending.
Patenting is a global activity at Ford, with experts in the United States, Europe, India and China sharing common processes and reporting through Ford Global Technologies.
Powertrain management key to EcoBoost patents
EcoBoost, which uses turbocharging and direct gasoline injection to boost engine output and reduce emissions without sacrificing fuel economy, marks a major milestone in the Ford strategy to deliver technologically advanced, high-output, smaller-displacement powertrains.
The Ford powertrain management strategy uses hundreds of thousands of lines of computer code and related parameters that are adjusted to optimize the engine and transmission operation. It’s these processes that largely make up the EcoBoost patent contribution and make Ford’s use of direct injection and turbocharging of its engines like no other automaker in the world.
“The secret to Ford’s EcoBoost system isn’t just the hardware – the key is in the Ford control system,” said Brett Hinds, Ford Advanced Engine Design and Development manager. “Our engineers have the right ‘recipes’ to integrate the various systems like engine, transmission and fuel management, resulting in a seamless, exhilarating driving experience.”
To extract the level of power and efficiency achieved in an engine like the EcoBoost V-6, a remarkable level of precision is required. One example is the amount of control engineers maintain over the fuel injection system:
· The powertrain management strategy uses 10,066 adjustable parameters
· At idle, each injector releases 10.4 milligrams of fuel per injection; put in household terms, that’s 1/25,000 the volume of a can of soda, or 0.2 drops of fuel
· Fuel injection pressure is continuously controlled to between 220 psi and 2150 psi
· Injection timing is adjusted up to 300 times a second