This genius contraption is how the internal combustion engine stays alive.
The turbocharger was once the first indicator that automakers were beginning to run into a technological wall in their efforts to downsize engines and maximize fuel economy. Soon that indicator became the twin turbocharged engine, enabling vehicles as big and power-demanding as the Ford F-150 Raptor to rely on a rather moderately-sized 3.5-liter V6 engine. And now, as the internal combustion engine clings on for dear life in the face of electrification, yet another piece of exotic technology is seeing its heyday.
Once used on WWII fighter planes before migrating to the automobile and later pioneered by Bosch for the modern engine in the BMW M4 GTS and now the Porsche 911 GT2 RS, the water injection system is showing promising signs of life. Mustang forum All Ford Mustangs has even uncovered a patent by Ford, outlining its plans to use a revolutionary new water injection system to extract more power out of its cars. Coming from Ford’s German division no less, this system is engineered for flexibility, combining the water injector and fuel injector into one component, which simplifies the hardware and infuses water into the engine rather than into an upstream location on the intake section.
This saves time and allows the ECU greater control of the cylinder's contents. What’s neat about the whole thing is how Ford sprays the water into the engine. The injector aligns the fluid paths in such a way that the the water is sprayed circumferentially around the fuel spray, allowing for a more even distribution while both fluids are injected at the same time. The water cools combustion temperatures, which in turn also cools the cylinder walls and pistons. With conditions set to stop preignition right in its tracks, higher compression ratios can be used to get more horsepower from the same engine in a safe manner or go towards producing more efficient torque.
The cooler exhaust gasses also contain less NOx particles, meaning less exhaust gas must be funneled through the Exhaust Gas Recirculation system. Those extra exhaust fumes can flow freely and be used to spin the turbines on a turbocharged engine, further exacerbating the system’s benefits. The most obvious beneficiaries of the system would be Ford’s family of EcoBoost engines, which could get more powerful and more efficient while remaining the same size and not sacrificing reliability. So thanks Ford, for doing what’s possible to keep the internal combustion engine alive just a bit longer.