E85 Boondoggle of the Day: Or Not?

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

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? PickupTrucks.com 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.”

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • Psarhjinian Psarhjinian on Sep 04, 2008

    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.

  • Conslaw Conslaw on Sep 04, 2008

    Here's a good Wikipedia article on water injection http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_injection_(engines) 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.

  • Anonymous Anonymous on Sep 04, 2008

    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.

  • GS650G GS650G on Sep 05, 2008

    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