LONDON - A recently patented engine component could significantly cut the cost of manufacturing engines.
Ford and two other engine makers are investigating the innovative camshaft drivebelt design. One is an Italian engine maker. The other is a German motorcycle maker.
The unique drivebelt acts like an old-fashioned water wheel. It scoops up oil from the engine sump and distributes it to the engine's moving parts by centrifugal force.
As well as lubricating the engine, the oil also cools the engine. The drivebelt eliminates the need for oil and water pumps.
It was invented by UK motor racing engineer Tim Woodhouse.
The invention has won the approval of UK industry analyst Garel Rhys. 'This is likely to be taken seriously,' he said. 'It will be fully investigated because it gives manufacturers everything they want - better efficiency with fewer moving parts and easier building. It's very interesting.'
An experimental engine fitted with the belt has completed 30 months' running without failure. 'It may sound unlikely, but the idea really works,' said Woodhouse.
'I have been trying to blow the engine up, but it seems unbreakable,' he said.
Woodhouse's drivebelt has teeth on one side which drive engine components, as with a conventional belt. On conventional drivebelts the other side is blank. Woodhouse's drivebelt has special 'cups' that are able to scoop up the oil.