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Ford adds recirculation to EcoBoost engines

EGR, a system that's more typical to diesel engines, recycles portion of gas exhaust to improve engine efficiency.

Ford's 2010 Flex SEL offers an EcoBoost power train as an option. 2009 CBS Interactive

Ford Motor announced Wednesday at the 2010 SAE World Congress that it's incorporating cooled EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) into its EcoBoost repertoire of gas engines.

EcoBoost versions of Ford power trains incorporate the direct injection and turbocharging technology previously restricted to diesel engines to offer more power to gas engines while still maintaining the same level of efficiency. The EcoBoost version of the 2010 Ford Flex SEL, for example, offers a V6 engine that can make 355 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque, but get the same mileage as the base model V6 engine that makes 262 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque.

Now those power trains are getting more updates.

Most notable is that Ford's EcoBoost engines will now include cooled EGR, another technology more typically found in diesel engines. The EGR system takes a portion of the exhaust gas from a car's engine, cools it in a heat exchanger, and then pumps it back in to the engine's cylinders, reducing combustion temperature. That results in an engine getting more distance on less fuel.

While EGR has been included on other car models for some time, Ford specifically claimed in its Wednesday statement that due to the cooling that takes place in the heat exchanger, its EGR will enhance EcoBoost engines by 5 percent, giving the EcoBoost engines 10 to 20 percent better fuel economy than its base-engine equivalents.

"An EcoBoost engine has much higher operating temperatures than a diesel engine. Many parts had to be upgraded to special metals and alloys that hold up to that environment. Our exhaust manifolds, for example, are made of stainless steel, and the turbochargers are made from high-temperature cast-iron alloy," Brett Hinds, manager of Ford's advanced engine design, said in a statement.

Like Volkswagen's Blue Motion, for which it won the 2010 World Green Car of the Year award, Ford's EcoBoost is a brand of technology add-on that is sold as a green upgrade or option on certain car models. The aim is generally to improve the car's overall efficiency by improving the standard gasoline engine's efficiency in lieu of using an alternative energy source altogether.

Update 2 p.m. PT: Details were added regarding Ford's new EGR system for EcoBoost engines.