At a recent engineering conference Ford representatives gave a presentation on secret new engine the company is developing. Code named “Bobcat” the new twin-turbo 5.0-liter V8 engine is seen more as an alternative truck engine, although as it is similar to Ford’s EcoBoost engine, passenger car applications are possible.
The Bobcat engine is a twin-fuel engine, using both conventional gasoline and E85 ethanol. Both fuel systems even have their own tanks and fuel injectors. Here’s how it works:
Turbochargers work to compress the air, while conventional port-injection of gasoline is used to get fuel into the cylinders. Then ethanol is sent into the combustion chambers through direct-injection, eliminating knock by cooling the air/fuel mixture. Ethanol is only added under high-load conditions, otherwise the engine operates like a conventional gasoline engine. By injecting ethanol, it also raises the fuel octane rating from 87-91 to 150 – allowing for extremely high compression. As a result, an engine the size of the 5.0-liter one can make 500hp and 750 ft-lbs of torque, while getting 25 to 30 percent better fuel-economy than a conventional gasoline engine.
Ford developed the technology alongside Ethanol Boosting Systems of Cambridge, Mass., which calls its trademarked process DI Octane Boost. The Bobcat engine would be comparable to Ford’s 6.4-liter Power Stroke diesel, which makes 350hp and 650 ft-lbs of torque, but would cost one third the price to make as no exhaust treatment systems would be necessary.
The system is also 5 to 10 percent more fuel-efficient than Ford’s new EcoBoost engine.
The down-side is that as there are two fuel-tanks, both would need to be filled up separately. No worry says Ford, the 5.0-liter Bobcat V8 would get 528 miles on a 26-gallon tank, while a 10-gallon tank of E85 would last anywhere from 100 miles to 20,000 miles depending on how much heavy-load conditions the truck is driven under. And if no E85 is available, the engine can still run on just gasoline, albeit at reduced power.
The Bobcat engine may just be Ford’s answer to recent increase in the fleet fuel-economy rating for light trucks and SUVs, which will go from the current 23.1 mpg to 30 mpg by 2016.