Cutting-edge technology has a way of aging and trickling down into consumer products. This is particularly true in technology and materials intended for space travel. Ford has announced that it is using a superalloy that was developed for space shuttle engines in the turbocharger for its 2.0-liter turbocharged EcoBoost engine in some applications. The super alloy allows the turbocharger to last significantly longer than using normal metal alone.
The special space shuttle superalloy helps the turbocharger Ford uses survive at the upper limit of temperature extremes that a commercial turbocharger is subjected to. Superchargers using the special alloy will be used on the Fusion and Focus ST EcoBoost turbos. Ford’s 2.0-liter turbocharged engine uses this special alloy for the turbine wheel inside the turbocharger.
The metal provides an upper temperature limit of 1050°C for the special-use turbochargers compared to the standard turbocharger upper temperature limit on 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine versions used in the Edge and Explorer of 970°C. The extra temperature range makes for a more durable turbocharger allowing drivers to enjoy the vehicles for years to come without worrying performance will degrade.
The turbochargers Ford uses are BorgWarner K03 units that use water and oil cooling. The turbos are primarily oil cooled, but the water cooling system creates a thermal water siphon to continue to cool the turbo once the engine is shut off. Ford says that the turbo is designed to run safely at speeds of up to 190,000 RPMs.