Automotive

Ford using plasma to refurbish dead engines

Ford using plasma to refurbish...
The Plasma Transferred Wired Arc (PTWA) thermal spray process applies a coating to an engine block, which helps bring it back to near-original condition
The Plasma Transferred Wired Arc (PTWA) thermal spray process applies a coating to an engine block, which helps bring it back to near-original condition
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The process being used was originally developed for engine performance enhancement
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The process being used was originally developed for engine performance enhancement
The Plasma Transferred Wired Arc (PTWA) thermal spray process applies a coating to an engine block, which helps bring it back to near-original condition
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The Plasma Transferred Wired Arc (PTWA) thermal spray process applies a coating to an engine block, which helps bring it back to near-original condition
When an engine fails or becomes very worn, it is usually pulled from the vehicle and scrapped – Ford wants to change that by utilizing a high-tech plasma process to remanufacture broken engines
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When an engine fails or becomes very worn, it is usually pulled from the vehicle and scrapped – Ford wants to change that by utilizing a high-tech plasma process to remanufacture broken engines
PTWA works by basically creating "paint" out of metallic materials
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PTWA works by basically creating "paint" out of metallic materials
In most PTWA processes, varied materials will be used to build multi-layer coatings
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In most PTWA processes, varied materials will be used to build multi-layer coatings
When witnessed first-hand, the plasma coating process looks similar to spray painting, but with a bright light where the paint emerges
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When witnessed first-hand, the plasma coating process looks similar to spray painting, but with a bright light where the paint emerges
The process for Ford involves taking worn, high-mileage engines and using plasma coatings to refurbish and repair the engine block
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The process for Ford involves taking worn, high-mileage engines and using plasma coatings to refurbish and repair the engine block
View gallery - 7 images

When an engine fails or becomes very worn, it is usually pulled from the vehicle and scrapped. Ford wants to change that by utilizing a high-tech plasma process to remanufacture broken engines. The process reduces carbon emissions by about half when compared to making a new engine to replace the old one, and results in a like-new engine block.

The goal is to extend the performance of a vehicle by lengthening its lifespan, thus reducing its overall environmental footprint. It ties in with other research being done by Ford to include vegetable fibers in plastics and soy fibers in foam and cloth.

The process was originally developed for engine performance enhancement, says Juergen Wesemann, manager of Vehicle Technologies and Materials, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering. The Plasma Transferred Wired Arc (PTWA) thermal spray process applies a coat to an engine block which helps bring it back to original condition. This removes the need for additional heavy parts.

When an engine fails or becomes very worn, it is usually pulled from the vehicle and scrapped – Ford wants to change that by utilizing a high-tech plasma process to remanufacture broken engines
When an engine fails or becomes very worn, it is usually pulled from the vehicle and scrapped – Ford wants to change that by utilizing a high-tech plasma process to remanufacture broken engines

PTWA works by basically creating "paint" out of metallic materials. A wire feedstock is first fed into a highly-charged cathode. This atomizes the feedstock, which is then sprayed onto a surface with forced gas. The high kinetic energy of the particles means that they flatten on impact with the surface of the target. They then quickly harden. This has the effect of both depositing even amounts of material onto a surface and of "leveling" the surface by naturally filling in pits and gouges.

In most PTWA processes, varied materials will be used to build multi-layer coatings. When witnessed first hand, the plasma coating process looks similar to spray painting, but with a bright light where the paint emerges.

The plasma coating process itself is not new. It's been a key ingredient for making aluminum engine blocks that can withstand repeated pressure without a cast iron sleeve in the cylinder bores. In the automotive manufacturing process, PTWA has become a common element. High-end vehicles such as the Nissan GT-R and Ford Mustang GT500 Shelby utilize plasma coating to improve friction surfaces and reduce weights by adding strength to parts made of lighter-weight materials.

In most PTWA processes, varied materials will be used to build multi-layer coatings
In most PTWA processes, varied materials will be used to build multi-layer coatings

For remanufacturing, pioneering use of plasma coating began with Caterpillar and others in the diesel engine realm, using it to refurbish high-mileage or high-use engine blocks that would otherwise be very expensive to replace. PTWA can be used on cast iron, aluminum, or nearly any other metal or alloy.

The process for Ford is to take worn, high-mileage engines and use plasma coatings to refurbish and repair the engine block, especially the cylinders, as the first step towards creating a like-new engine that can be used again.

Source: Ford

View gallery - 7 images
10 comments
apprenticeearthwiz
oh goodie! Another 2 minutes of life for this dinosaur technology.
christopher
"The process reduces carbon emissions by about half when compared to making a new engine"... and then *using* this old engine instead of an efficient new modern one spews out an extra 50,000 kilograms of CO2 over it's lifespan. Never let the big picture get in the way of a story eh?
Jay Dillon
Thank you for your amazing website.
MikeStratton
Plasma coatings have been used for years in everything from aerospace to repairing wind turbine parts. If they would use it before the motor was assembled from the beginning they could make all motors last a couple hundred thousand miles more.
Nairda
I can only imagine this process to be of any economic value to highly specialized engines in expensive machines such as generators, heavy vehicles and public transport. For most of us, after hitting that 200,000 mile point where the engine is on its last leg, the vehicle is likely too old to refurbish and everything else is starting to also fail. In our disposable world, the concept of purchasing a vehicle to last 30 years is a dinosaur concept. Especially when engine emissions and fuel economy improvements are coming so thick and fast with each successive model. But don't get me wrong. I've often fantasied about modular "century class" vehicles made of titanium and ceramic materials that would last me my entire lifetime. But we are not there yet.
nedge2k
Some of you seem to be ignoring the historic/enthusiast market - which is rather large - and would benefit greatly from technology like this. Not everyone wants a new car or the crap that comes with them. Not everyone wants to drive the same blue/silver/white/black borefest that everyone else does. Not everyone sees cars as tools to merely get you from A-B.
pmshah
I have seen crankshaft journals being repaired or resized by this process more than 30 years ago. As it says in the article it is basically designed for "using it to refurbish high-mileage or high-use engine blocks that would otherwise be very expensive to replace"
rogerp29
Well, the right company is doing it, high mileage for a Ford is 60K to 80K. Every Ford I've had needed an engine or transmission or both..... I filled out a survey and they sent me a sympathy card! wish I would have kept it ;-(
mrhuckfin
I like this! If my old Lincoln MK IV ever wears out I might look into this, but at well over 300,000 mile my old 460 cu. in. V8 still doesn't burn any oil between 5000 mile oil changes so I'm thinking it'll be a while? LOL!
Gizzyfuel
Question is why are they still trying to sell this type of engine we need the electric engine now. I am sick of smelling the car exhaust and when the only fun stuff is at hte mega city .... it smell worse. Really they need to come up with a plan of turning old car motor into all electric keeping some of the body frame intact.