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Friday
May062016

Have Wind Tunnel, Will Travel

With cabin quietness increasing as a purchase differentiator for customers, Ford has developed a mobile aeroacoustic wind tunnel that can be shipped to any of its North American assembly plants. The wind tunnel can produce speeds up to 80 mph, and used to identify sources of unwanted wind noise in early production vehicles. Test can be run and solutions found on-site, reducing test cycles from weeks to hours. It will make its debut at Ford’s Flat Rock Assembly Plant that builds both the Mustang and Fusion.

The mobile unit costs a small fraction of the $50 million for a full-size aerodynamic lab. The tests require only a steady stream of highway-speed wind, so many of the large, sensitive instruments used in a full-size wind tunnel aren’t needed. The mobile unit requires two 53-foot shipping containers, each with aeroacoustic vanes and internal ducting to provide smooth, controlled airflow through the nozzle. Two 16-blade, six-foot diameter ducted fans, each powered by a 250-hp electric motor, push air through the open-throat tunnel.

In order to run tests, the two main shipping containers are fastened together on a flat, level surface, and the roll-up doors between them are opened. The doors on the front and back of the trailers open to create the intake and outlet nozzles for the tunnel section. A third container, 40 feet in length, is placed nearby and connected to the main units through power and data cabling.

Assembly personnel, engineers and others can be gathered together to take part in the tests, and work out solutions. These can be applied and the results tested until an answer is found and certified. Then the wind tunnel unit can be disassembled, shipped via truck to any other Ford assembly facility in North America, and reassembled within a few hours for testing. Use of this portable system also means Ford’s main wind tunnel facility in Allen Park, MI, can be dedicated to developing future products. — CAS



Friday
May062016

More Speeds, Greater Efficiency, and Double the Injectors

By Christopher A. Sawyer

About the only thing that Ford’s second generation 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 keeps from its predecessor is the bore spacing and deck height of the outgoing motor. That’s because this makes it possible to build the new engine on the same line as the outgoing version, with no major changes in plant or equipment. Where the new engine differs the most from its predecessor, however, is in its fuel injection system. The original was a pure direct injection design that sprayed fuel into the center of each cylinder. Theoretically, this places the fuel where you need it in precisely metered amounts, which increases efficiency.

In the real world, however, direct-injected motors are not quite perfect. The fuel flow required at higher rpms runs counter to the need for precise injection through smaller holes, leading to wall wetting and greatly increased carbon buildup on the heads and the backside of intake valves. If that’s not enough, direct injection motors create more particulate emissions. This is an increasing problem as the EPA’s Tier 3 emission regulations for 2018 greatly reduce the particulate emissions that internal combustion engines of any type are allowed to emit. Potentially, some gasoline direct-injection motors may need to run diesel-like particulate filters to pass these particulate emission standards.

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Friday
Apr222016

Low-cost Back Over Breakthrough?

Harman International has developed a cost-effective, software-based Reverse Pedestrian Detection (RPD) safety system that can detect pedestrians behind a vehicle. The unit includes a rear camera and sensor, and is capable of detecting children aged 12 to 23 months. They are the most vulnerable to being backed over.

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Friday
Apr222016

Ford to Transform its Dearborn Campuses

By Christopher A. Sawyer

Sustainability Showcase overlooks Oakwood Boulevard and The Henry Ford. It will no longer be possible to drive directly across and onto Ford property as greeen areas, walking paths and non-grid road structure will dominate. For the first time since the Eisenhower administration, Ford is updating its research and development facilities, as well as its world headquarter campus, both located in Dearborn, Michigan. The transformation will take 10 years, co-locate 30,000 employees from 70 buildings into two primary campus locations and create a new Design Center, while cutting energy use in half, adding green spaces, and adding a zero-waste, zero-water, zero-energy Sustainability Showcase building. If that doesn’t take top spot in “Buzzword Bingo”, Ford says the campuses will be walkable communities with paths, trails and covered walkways, as well as on-demand shuttles, eBikes, autonomous vehicles, employee services, and high-speed internet up to 10 times faster than today. The idea behind the project, says Ford, is to support its transformation into an automobile and mobility company by driving innovation and collaboration at every level of the business.

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Friday
Apr222016

Increased Plastic Content for Chevy Malibu, Cadillac CT6

ContiTech’s lightweight engine mount system for the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu increases the number of polyamide elements, and reduces component weight by about 20%. What makes the system unique is that almost all the functional components of the hydraulic mounts are made of polyamide.

ContiTech supplies three engine mounts and their attachments, including an engine and transmission mount, as well as a torque rod support. Because the 2016 Malibu offers a 1.5-liter small four-cylinder engine, the size of the engine mounts for this motor are considerably larger in order to dampen out is vibrations. “We were able to replace all the internal components with much lighter polyamide versions,” explains Florian Reinke, developer at ContiTech Vibration Control. “Only one steel component has been retained, and the crash-relevant parts are still made of aluminum because of the limited installation space.”

This isn’t ContiTech’s first use of polyamide to control vibration. The German company developed a strut mount using fiberglass-reinforced BASF Ultramid polyamide where this unit also is used as the primary structural component. Compared to parts made of steel or aluminum, the polyamide piece brings a weight reduction of up to 25%, and a longer service life. This two-section, three-path bearing design is used in the Cadillac CT6 where it enhances ride comfort, and gives more precise, low-friction rotational movement of the front struts, making the CT6 easier to steer. — CAS