A hubbub of excitement has gripped Dayco Products this year. The supplier has hit on a product that it believes will not only supercharge its own business but revolutionize how vehicles will operate in an era of increased electrification and intensified lightweighting.
Dayco calls the technology ACTIVAC. And unlike the parade of future-generation technologies appearing around the industry, the component uses a profoundly low-tech approach to deliver a better mousetrap.
ACTIVAC is a vacuum-generation system that uses basic physics to eliminate the need for heavier, more expensive pumps. The technology's arrival on the market was hardly a shy affair. After years of development, the pump debuted last fall on the brake system for the 2017 Ford F-150. The F series is the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. But according to Dayco, brake systems are just the opening act. ACTIVAC can essentially replace any mechanical or electrical vacuum pump by rerouting the air that flows naturally into the engine.
Dayco anticipates the technology will represent 20 percent of its global automotive business in the near future, according to executives.
The product uses a principle known as the Venturi effect, an observation of fluid dynamics that has been understood for two centuries. It is the effect of creating a reduction in air or fluid pressure by forcing it through a constricted section of a pipe, or choke, to produce a vacuum.
The breakthrough was discovering how to apply the concept to mass-produced vehicles to address the push for weight reduction and the engineering desire to limit how much engine — or electric battery — power is drained away to run component systems.
"It's as close to no-compromise as you can get," said Paul DiLisio, Dayco's vice president of global program and product management. "It can result in lower systems cost, better fuel economy and better braking performance."
When compared with a mechanical vacuum pump, the ACTIVAC system, at 1.82 pounds, reduces weight up to 6.2 pounds. It also improves fuel economy by an estimated 0.3 percent.
Compared with an electrical pump, the system reduces weight by approximately 5 pounds and results in a significant cost savings per vehicle.
In the F-150, ACTIVAC was used on pickups equipped with the second-generation 3.5-liter V-6 EcoBoost engine. The pickup previously used a mechanical vacuum pump.
"What's remarkable about this story is — this is new technology for us. It's new tech for them, and what do they do? They put it on the flagship model," DiLisio said. "You talk about an endorsement of the technology. For us, it was pretty exciting."
Ford Motor Co., which partnered with Dayco and holds some patents on the actuator technology, was interested in the system because it is lighter than existing vacuum-generation technologies and created no additional parasitic loss for the engine.
"It's able to adjust, and it's electronically controlled," said Jiyan Cadiz, a Ford spokesman. "It's a win-win."