By on September 4, 2008

As much as we criticize ethanol around these parts, we all use it. E10 is a fact of life, thanks to ethanol’s anti-knock properties and lack of groundwater contamination lawsuits. So what if ethanol were used more intelligently as an additive, instead of being hawked as an alt-fuel? has news that Ford’s second-generation EcoBoost turbocharged engines could go that very route. Although the first round of EcoBoost engines aren’t even on sale yet, the second generation is being developed under the codename “Bobcat.” These new engines are said to feature “ethanol boost technology,” not-so-coincidentally developed by Ethanol Boosting Systems of Cambridge, MA.  In essence, a variable ethanol direct-injection system allows turbocharged engines to operate at a higher compression ratio. This means more power and up to 15 percent better efficiency than a first-gen EcoBoost engine. Plus, you only have to top-up on ethanol every month or so. With talk of getting 500 hp and 700 lb-ft from a 5.0 turbo-V8, developers are positioning the Bobcat as big-pickup diesel competition. And Ford is already saying Bobcat engines will be a $1,100 option (give or take), which compares well to diesel’s $5k premium. But don’t start looking for the Bobcat option box any time soon. “The first Bobcat test engines may be built before the end of the year, but they have not received final approval for production,” according to PickupTrucks’ “industry sources.”

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10 Comments on “E85 Boondoggle of the Day: Or Not?...”

  • avatar

    Not an ethanol fan…never for government forced changes.
    But I got goosebumps from that torque talk!

  • avatar

    Is it just me, or does Ford seem to have the best outlook.
    I think Ford might have the best looking choices come 2010, 11.
    We complain about the domestics not forward thinking enough, but Ford seems ahead of the curve lately.

  • avatar

    Not new technology; alcohol injection was used in World War II in aircraft, and proposed in the experimental “GM Motorama” Buick Le Sabre show car of the early ’50’s (and actually put into production by GM in the 1962-1963 Oldsmobile F-85 Jetfire turbocharged all-alloy V8 sports coupe. 215 cubic inches, 215 horsepower, 10.25:1 compression ratio (WAY high for a turbo-engine). Little wonder it needed alchol injection; even without turbo-boost, it needed Premium leaded. The “special Jetfire fluid” alcohol was only available at Oldsmobile dealers, and there was a small tank under the hood. Yeah, it was a real problem for the average joe or jane to remember to add the stuff… (Wonder how GM coped with “dry” states and counties where no alcohol could legally be sold?)

    I suspect that in the future, we’re going to have bi-fuel vehicles.

    Already, aren’t there new diesels on the market which require Urea fluid?

  • avatar
    Usta Bee

    From Wikipedia:

    “Turbo Jetfire

    In 1962 and 1963 Oldsmobile built a turbocharged version of the 215. The small-diameter turbocharger was manufactured by Garrett AiResearch and produced a maximum of 5 lbf/in² (34 kPa) boost at 2200 rpm. The engine had 10.25:1 compression and a single-barrel carburetor. It was rated at 215 hp (160 kW) @ 4600 rpm and 300 lb·ft (406 N·m) @ 3200 rpm. The high compression ratio created a serious problem with spark knock on hard throttle applications, which led Olds to use a novel water-injection system that sprayed small amounts of distilled water and methyl alcohol (dubbed “Turbo-Rocket Fluid”) into the combustion chambers to cool the intake charge. If the fluid reservoir was empty, a complex double-float and valve assembly in the Turbo-Rocket Fluid path would set a second butterfly (positioned between the throttle butterfly and the turbocharger) into the closed position, limiting the amount of boost pressure. Unfortunately, many customers did not keep the reservoir filled, or had mechanical problems with the turbocharger plumbing.

    The turbocharger was offered only in a special Jetfire model, which was the first turbocharged passenger car offered for public sale. Only 9,607 were sold in two model years, and many were converted by dealers to conventional four-barrel carbureted form.”

    Congratulations to Ford for reinventing 46 year old technology.

  • avatar

    menno and Usta Bee

    The fact that it was invented and tried a long time ago doesn’t take away from the fact that it is not available now, by anyone.
    And that Ford is trying to make it so and make it commercially succesful IS important.
    I mean, come on.
    This is the case for all technology.
    Even the television, although not really commercially introduced until the late 40s was actually started in the 1800s.
    So please lets be a little appreciative.


  • avatar

    I hate the fact that E10 is often put in our fuel without our knowledge, and is detrimental to performance and mileage. That said, this is the first modern use of the stuff (ethanol) that I can absolutely agree with.

    Oh, and tequila, of course.

  • avatar

    What ever happened to Saab’s BioPower engines? Were they a victim of GM’s inability to focus?

    It seemed like a not-half-bad idea, assuming the fuel source was more sensible.

  • avatar

    Here’s a good Wikipedia article on water injection

    As the article states, in WWII the injection system was only used in full-rich, full-load circumstances, but the water/methanol mixture delayed detonation enough to run much higher manifold pressures and turbocharger boost.

    I don’t know how viable the concept would be on a lightly-loaded passenger car engine.

  • avatar

    I think it’s a great idea. The benefit of ethanol can not be realized in engines designed to run on gasoline. Yes alcohol burning engines produce huge amounts of power at the track but that is because they are designed to run at extremely high compression ratios that would result in predetonation with typical gasoline. If Ford can design an engine that takes advantage of ethanol’s high octane that’s great, because it actually makes sense, versus burning it in a typical low compression engine where it actually reduces fuel efficiency compared to straight gasoline.

  • avatar

    I used alcohol injection on a V-8 many years ago. Dropping grain alcohol in through the intake manifold at WOT eliminated knocks and allowed more advance. I didn’t mix it with the gas though

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