If the new batch of Ford F-150s hasn’t added enough to the line with the hybrid powerplant and built-in electric-power generator, then check out this potential new approach to building the next-gen engines. I’m no diesel engine expert, but Ford is, and it is taking a page from the old diesel days and even dipping into the high-performance world of the 2022 Maserati MC20 engine inspired by Formula 1 engines.
The Ford F-150 might utilize a diesel-style, Maserati MC20-esq engine
Ok, So what exactly is Ford referencing with diesel engines and the Maserati V6? Basically, diesel engines used to start the ignition process with something called a prechamber. This chamber housed a glow-plug that got extra hot to help the engine to start in colder temperatures. This old-style of doing things has since been replaced with newer, high-pressure injectors in modern diesel engines.
The 2022 Maserati MC20 uses this old-school prechamber idea in its gas-powered Nettuno V6 engine. The idea is by pre-heating the chamber; the fuel will burn at a higher rate and make more power. This same idea has been implemented in Formula 1 to squeeze as much power out of the engines as possible.
Enter Ford and the F-150
MotorTrend reports that Ford is hard at work with FEV, an engineering consultancy, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory on a prechamber engine to boost efficiency. The project is projected to cost $10 million over the course of three years. The Department of energy even has a stake in the project as it has partially funded some of it.
The goal is to create an engine capable of a 23 percent improvement in efficiency and a 15 percent reduction in engine mass than the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 in a 2016 Ford F-150. Of course, the Maserati and the Formula 1 engines are aimed at peak performance. The research project is only interested in this engine style’s efficiency aspect, but one typically begets the other.
What is a prechamber ignition?
It is kind of like a second mini cylinder shaft at the top of the normal cylinder. It gets its own sparkplug and fuel injector. Think Russian doll, but instead of little babushkas, it’s just compression chambers inside of compression chambers – I think.
Ford is working on fitting a compressed-air injector inside the mini chamber along with the rest of it. The prechamber has to has the same compression as the main chamber so that when the combustion happens in the prechamber, the jets of fire will escape into the main chamber to ignite the fuel and air.
There is obviously far more to this process, but it gets very complicated, very quickly. The overall idea is that if the prechamber can ignite the fuel and air mixture inside the engine more quickly and efficiently, then the engine’s overall efficiency will be greater and likely have a higher power output.
Formula 1 powered F-150
The Ford-F-150 is already the most popular truck in the game. If this project works and Ford can start putting Formula 1-inspired motors in the F-150, things will likely get even better for the F-150.