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Ford Unveils Flex-Fuel Hybrid Research Vehicle

25 January 2006

Fordescapehybride85_01_ppt
Escape Hybrid E85

At the Washington Auto Show, Ford unveiled the Ford Escape Hybrid E85, a version of its Escape hybrid with a flexible-fuel engine capable of running either gasoline or ethanol blends of up to 85% (E85).

The research vehicle is the first from a major car company to actually mate the two technologies (flexible-fuel engines and hybrid powertrains) together, although the potential of the combination is being increasingly mentioned by policymakers.

As a leader in both hybrid vehicles and in vehicles capable of operating on ethanol-based fuels, Ford is the ideal company to bring both technologies together for the first time.

This innovative research program could lead to breakthroughs to significantly reduce our nation’s dependence on imported oil while also helping to address global climate change.

—Anne Stevens, EVP, Ford Motor, and COO, The Americas

The Ford Escape Hybrid would produce about 25% less carbon dioxide if operated exclusively on E85 fuel instead of gasoline, according to the company.

Ford engineers working on the Escape Hybrid E85 research project are seeking not only to optimize the efficiency of the new powertrain, but also to resolve some emissions issues.

Although Ford engineers have achieved very low tailpipe emissions with FFVs, evaporative emissions remain a challenge. Some blends of ethanol are much more volatile than gasoline, so a more aggressive evaporative system is necessary.

A full hybrid application presents additional evaporative challenges, because the vehicle often operates on electric power alone without actuating the evaporative vacuum system that operates when the gasoline engine is in use.

Ford engineers are pursuing a number of strategies to address this challenge with the goal of achieving partial zero-emissions vehicle (PZEV) status. No FFV has yet been certified to this extremely clean standard, because of the evaporative requirement in the PZEV standard.

Ford researchers are applying some of the best expertise in the industry in hybrid power controls, flexible fuel operation and exhaust after-treatment. We’re working on the whole system, from the fuel tank through to the tailpipe, to optimize fuel efficiency and lower emissions.

We are seeking innovations to eliminate the release of fuel vapors from the vehicle. We’re working to further improve the efficiency of our systems that trap and consume fuel vapors while also working on ideas to prevent the generation of vapor in the first place.

—Nancy Gioia, director, Sustainable Mobility Technologies & Hybrid Programs

Ford researchers also hope to apply a number of proprietary engine technologies being developed for future application that could further increase the fuel economy performance of a hybrid FFV.

Ford has two full hybrid electric vehicle models on the road today—the Ford Escape Hybrid and the Mercury Mariner Hybrid—with more models on the way and a targeted increase in hybrid production capacity to 250,000 hybrid vehicles a year globally by the end of the decade.

The company will also produce up to 250,000 flexible-fuel vehicles (FFVs) this year, including the Ford F-150 pickup truck, as well as the Ford Crown Victoria , Mercury Grand Marquis and Lincoln Town Car large sedans.

January 25, 2006 in Ethanol, Hybrids | Permalink | Comments (30) | TrackBack (8)

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Comments

Go Ford Go! Make Flex Fuel standard for every hybrid you produce, it doesnt' cost much to do and would be a great selling point - giving the consumer the option of using Ethanol in the future. Use this and you can kick your marketshare up in the hybrid market as you compete against Prius's, Civic Hybrids and Camry Hybrids in the coming years...

When they start selling E85 in CA, these fly off the lot.

When they start selling E85 in CA... these will fly off the lot.

I live in a suburb south of Kansas City and AFIK theres only 1 station with E85 anywhere close to me. Right now their price for E85 is $2.33/gallon, regular grade gasoline is $2.18.

If they can make the same kind of operating profit, I'd rather see American farmers sell their crops (or whatever) to make ethanol/biodiesel to be used by american motorists than exporting the crops to other countries. It seems like a win win situation, decreasing America's crop exports would raise crop prices (in a general theory anyway), making higher profits for the American farmers who still export...ontop of reducing American dollars being exported in return for oil from Venezuala (sp?) and the middle east.

*win-win-win situation, forgot about the environment impact of using less oil.

But, in the long run, will this we a win-win for those who have to eat?

No.  It's a minor win, but limited because we cannot make enough ethanol to run everything even on E85.

A real win would have been a plug-in hybrid Escape.  Being able to run the vehicle DIRECTLY from renewables like wind and solar would be a much bigger deal than ethanol (which needs .74 BTU of fossil fuel to make each BTU of product).

Yes, .74 BTUs of oil is used to produce 1 BTU of ethanol....AS OPPOSED TO THE 1.23 BTUS OF OIL USED TO CREATED 1 BTU OF GASOLINE!!! 1 BTU of ethonal uses only 60% as many BTUs from oil as it takes to produce 1 BTU of gasoline. I don't call a 40% reduction minor...

t - you act as if food production is running at capacity, it's not. Switching some of our crops from exporting to fuel for domestic use is not going to have anyone starving. It helps "take care of our own backyard first", cuts down our oil consumption, cuts down or US dollars going to Venezuela, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, cuts down on pollution as ethanol powered vehicles produce fewer emissions, ect ect.

Eric, are you sure that the price for an actual gallon of E 85 or is it the "equivelant gallon cost"

I only ask, because E85 only has 72% of the energy compared to the same volume in gasoline.

Thus your 20mpg on gas goes down to 14mpg. I thought that E85 was subsidised to make it cost competitive.

Sounds strange to make it [i]more[/i] expensive to gasoline

I have no idea about any subsidize in KCMO. It might be it might not, I do know it's the only E85 pump that I know of in southern Kansas City. I do not know if that price was for a gallon or the "equivelant gallon cost". I wish I knew of a good "E85 users" website, see what prices are around the country.

I do call a 40% reduction "minor".  A plug-in hybrid with 20 miles electric range could get 60%; 50 miles, 80%.  It could be powered from wind or PV as well as biomass, and it would eliminate the engine noise and emissions over much of its range, too.

Ethanol is a farm-support program, not an energy program.

That's a typical pie in the sky response. Do you have any idea how little of our electricity comes from wind and power? It's probably 1-2% of the entire electricity generated in the US.

Ethanol is an energy program and it is a great idea. Unless you'd rather give your money to hugo chavez & king abdullah instead of an American farmer.

It's probably 1-2% of the entire electricity generated in the US.
It's much less than that.  Here are the figures, calculate it yourself.

But it's growing faster than anything else.  Those figures don't include the 3.4 GW of capacity added in 2005 or the maxed-out turbine production rate for 2006.  They don't include the 1.2 terawatts of potential from just the top 20 states, or the 900 GW of potential from the continental shelves.  (The US used about 450 GW average in the last year on that list.)

Ethanol is an energy program and it is a great idea.
You keep saying that, but the numbers keep saying otherwise.

Iogen can convert biomass to ethanol with about 48% efficiency; the typical car can turn fuel in the tank to energy at the wheels at 14.9%, for 7.2% throughput.  If you could make a direct-carbon fuel cell for mobile uses, you could turn the same biomass to charcoal at ~40% efficiency and charcoal to electricity at 80%, for 32% throughput (more than 4 times as good).  The same fields which grow switchgrass or Miscanthus Giganticus for charcoal could also have wind turbines on the corners, charging vehicle batteries for short trips.  That's a two-fer.

The only reason to push ethanol is to make certain that farm production cannot satisfy demand and lead to a glutted market.  Due to its inefficiency, this is guaranteed; this makes it a farm program, not an energy program.

Anything that reduces oil consumption is a good thing and should be done. Just because it's not the holy grail for energy solutions does not mean it should be ignored.

Saying ethanol isn't a good idea big it's not the holy grail of solving our energy problems is the same line of thinking when someone says their SUV doesn't matter when it comes to our oil dependency, its only one vehicle or when someone throws a cigarette butt on the ground, it's just one small piece of paper.

I'm against ethanol because it sucks down subsidies far out of proportion to its benefits; we'd get a lot more for less with other options.

I am tech lead for CalCars.org, and I highly approve of this announcement by Ford. Even if not hugely difficult, this is a great step forward! If their hybrids are ALSO (not instead) made into pluggable hybrids (PHEVs), and ethanol begins to be made from cellulose, we have the basis of a complete transportation energy solution!

The U.S. electric grid is currently generated 50% from coal, making the electric miles around 40% lower carbon emissions than gasoline hybrid miles (up to 80% lower than non-hybrid gasoline miles). In CA this is >60%; >80% in Northern CA; and 100% if the user puts solar panels on their building. CA and many other states require a higher portion of renewables powering the grid each year.

Cellulosic ethanol has been found to be nearly carbon neutral, as very little energy goes into growing farm waste, forest brush, organic waste, or switchgrass -- which don't compete with food production, either. There is not enough of all this to power our vehicles (e.g. via E85), but there is if the vehicles are not only FFVs, but also PHEVs!

Anyone know how long it would take for the U.S. to facililate ethanol at our current gas stations? What are the major hurdles in doing this?

How about this? An aerodynamic hybrid car that runs on biomass from organic waste; solar panels on the roof to power the radio, windows, and a/c and to regenerate the battery; small wind turbines at the front corners to power the head and tail lights; and paint that turns black in the winter and white in the summer to reduce energy to heat/cool the car? And can we finally build an energy efficient vehicle that looks cool? Haven't seen one yet.

If all the jobs keep going to other countrys including ford flex fuel motor factory, where are the people going to continue to have jobs that can afford to buy your cheaply manufactured high priced vehicles in the states. The people in this country can not afford to have more lost jobs. You will one day see that no one will be able to buy cars if this keeps up. As for me I have lost all appreciation for ford after being solely devoted to ford.

As the head of a developing ethanol plant in Hawaii, I belive this is great work being done by Ford. Hopefuly they will build a F-150 hybrid, plug in, flex fuel model. That would be great for comapany cars. If every ethanol factory bought F-150's for their companyies than it would be enough volume to justify production of such a model. Alternative Fuels Hawaii produces ethanol from sugar; which is a lot more efficient than corn. We also are developing cellulosic ethanol from sugar cane(100 times more productive than swich grass). We have a small production design that will develop into a state wide co-op of such facilities. If anyone is interested in investing or just information email me.

Cole Santos
Alternative Fuels Hawaii
csantos_kiheihs@yahoo.com

JUST READ THROUGH THE COMMENTS - I HEAR MANY DIFFERENT VIEWS, RESEARCH, POLITICS, ETC... THE MORE WE HEAR THE CLOUDIER THE WATER WE ARE TREADING IN. I HAVE ALSO HEARD STORIES FROM BACK IN THE 1960'S OF EXPERIMENTAL CARBS. PRODUCED BY THE "MAJOR" AUTO MANUFACTURER'S THAT GOT CARS 50 MILES PER GALLON. YES - CONVENTIONAL AUTO'S - THE BIG OLD BOAT'S FROM THE 60'S. WE HAVE ALL HEARD THESE STORIES. THE STORY GOES THAT THE OIL COMPANIES BOUGHT UP THE TECHNOLOGY AND HAVE THE INFO/TECHNOLOGY TO MAKE THINGS A BUNCH MORE EFFICIENT THAN THEY ARE AT PRESENT TIME. HOWEVER - THEY WILL NOT BRING IT TO MARKET UNTIL THEY BEGIN TO SEE THEIR WINDFALL PROFITS OF TODAY, BEGIN TO GO SOUTH. WHY WOULD THEY - THEY ARE MAKING BILLIONS - "ON OUR STUPIDITY".

JUST A THOUGHT - I'M NO ENGINEER BUT, TO THE POSTING ON VOLITILITY OF ETHANOL, - WHY COULDN'T THE VOLITILITY BE CONTROLED BY CONTAINMENT IN A SEALED CONTAINER UNDER PRESSURE - LIKE PROPANE OR LNG OR BUTANE.

Dear Ford:
I am not a big fan of Ford but I applaud you many times over for what I have just read about your research on E-85 and hybrid fuel development. I drive another make of car and called the factory where they are made and the people claimed to know nothing about E-85.

I lean towards the "Reneable" aspect of the E-85 more so then the battery type where eventualy I am sure the battery will out live its use and end up in a land fill. E-85 while it takes some energy to produce, is a renewable source and I have faith in the scientific community that they will eventily come up with a way to lessen/eliminate any pollution generated by the manufacturing process.

Again congradulations on being in the for-front of these two future tecnologies and I am looking forward to hearing more about your work.

Please also consider conversion kits for older cars so we can even eliminate more of the need for foriegn oil.

Dennis L. McLaughlin

I am retired (60) and not very mechanical but as an American and resident of planet Earth I am gettingmore and more into doing something myself with very little
investment which has potential for bigger and better things. Do Christmas trees act as a Biomass and where could I find a list of things which can be made into a power source including alternative power from city garbage.
I am ready, along with my wife to start career number 2,
part time at first.

Earl WIlliams
Lawrence, Ma. (Metro Boston)
the1maverick65@msn.com

I am ready to buy a hybrid flex fuel Ford escape right NOW.
(a plug in option would be nice, and yes with a solar panel inlaid on the roof with those pop in place little windmills to power the battery all day in my parking space while I am at work all day.)
As long as some arab makes one less nickel, I am all about it.

SO why is it not on the market yet?

I don't give one plug nickel about the emissions. Volcanos put out more than we could ever make. I think global warming is just the change of climate in the Earth's life cycle.

Now, if OPEC doesn't have our money for their oil maybe they will try and do something productive not just blowing themselves up. Notice the leaders never strap on bombs?

I will pay for a vehicle that will reduce my dependance on the OPEC fellas oil, and if it helps keep the air clean that's cool too. This is not a matter of environmentalism with me it is a matter of America's Strength. If it helps Nature that is cool, but not the driving force.

Somebody has to build this.

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