Answered By: Archives & Library Staff @The Henry Ford
Last Updated: Jul 07, 2022 Views: 11

Drawing of Scientific Laboratory exterior                                                   The Ford Scientific Research Laboratory on the Research and Engineering Campus (Acc. 951 box 17)

The Ford Scientific Research Laboratory was established in 1951 to provide diversification based on new knowledge, furnish technical information essential to existing products, and develop product improvements and innovations. In 1952, the laboratory and staff were set up on the 2nd floor of the Dynamometer Building on the Research and Engineering Campus in Dearborn, MI. The team moved to the new Research Building in 1957. Major work in the 1950s included identifying pollutants in automotive exhaust, developing titanium carbide cutting tools, and the gas turbine “Big Red” engine.

In 1962, the group split into the Scientific Laboratory, headed by Jack Goldman, and Applied Research, headed by Ed Marande. The 1960s saw the group working on an Electrocure process for curing paint with radiation, developing lightweight automotive materials to improve fuel economy, experiments with sodium sulphate batteries as an alternate to the internal combustion engine, and development of four-wave mixing of light (a basis for spectroscopic technique). They also reported the first observation of Giant Quantum Effect and headed pioneering studies in metallurgy of diffusional and displacive phase transformations.

Man working with electronic equipment
                                                                         Physicist Dr. George Alers in the Ford Scientific Research Laboratory, c. 1955 (P.O.10025)

The research laboratory focused on environmental aspects of the automotive industry throughout the 1970s. Their studies included beginning research in identifying molecules and reaction mechanisms that lead to smog and urban air quality degradation, atmospheric modeling to work with Ford on emission regulations, options for alternative fuel and non-internal combustion vehicles including the PROCO engine, and the first electronic engine controls.

In the 1980s the group worked on palladium-based three-way catalysts, EXT Electric Transaxle Vehicle research, split-port engines, and service bay diagnostics. The laboratory expanded further in the 1990s with the establishment of the Safety Research Department in 1997, and the e-Technologies department in 1999 and was working on rapid prototyping of component tooling and the P2000 Hâ‚‚ fuel cell sedan and hybrid electric vehicle. In 2005, the laboratory changed its name to the Ford Research and Innovation Center, continuing to focus on Flexible Fuel Vehicles and the environmental impact of the automotive industry.

Man at electronic controls inside laboratory
Dr. Andrew Kucher with electronic equipment used in the development and testing of gas turbine engine components (P.833.107933.3)

Leadership:
   Andy Kucher, 1951-1957

   Mike Ference, 1957-1971

   Dale Compton, 1971-1986

   John McTague, 1987-1990

   Bill Powers, 1991-2000

   Gerhard Schmidt, 2001-2011

   Ken Washington, 2011-2021

   Jim Buczkowski, (interim as of 2022)

Bibliography
Archival

   Acc. 951 Ford Motor Company Non Serial Publications Collection

      box 10 Facts and Facets of the Auto Industry: The Scientific Laboratory, 1958

      box 17 Ford Motor Company Research: The First 50 Years, 2001

      box 41 The Scientific Laboratory, 1955

   Acc. 536 Public Relations Research Library Press Releases Subseries
      box 31 Engineering; Scientific Laboratory, 1952-53 (2 folders)
      box 54 Kucher, Andrew A.
                     Biography (2 folders)
                     Executive Communication, 1953
                     Speech, 1951

   Acc. 234 Speech Services Records
      box 13 Kucher, Andrew A. 1952, January 10, “A Glimpse into the Future”

                                                1953, May 6, “The Scientific Laboratory”

   Acc. 1527 Ford R Bryan Papers
      box 2 Miscellaneous Items “Perspectives” Staff Meeting Minutes “Under Dr. Andrew A.
                   Kucher” by Ford R. Bryan.

      box 3 Binders: Optical Spectroscopy, Scientific Laboratory 1951-1974, Optical Spectroscopy
                   I, Optical Spectroscopy II

      box 4 Ford Motor Company Spectroscopy

                  Analysis of magnesium alloys using photomultiplier Tubes, 1945

                  Commercial Direct Reading Spectrometer, 1951

                  Geiger-Muller Counting Equipment, Phosphorus in Cast Iron, 1947

                  Early Analytical Spectrography at the Rouge, 1935-1945

                  Experimental Grating Spectrometer, 1942-48

                  Experimental Sample Molds, Glass, Metal, Plastic, 1951

                  Manufacturing Research Department, 1947

                  Microspectroscopy of metals, 1946

                  Reference spectra taken on experimental grating spectrometer, 1948

                  Scrap Analysis, 1946

                  Spectrographs, F.M.C.

              Management Proposals Old-Timers Club Directory, 1982

              Retired Management Directory, 1998

              Retirement Photos, 1974

   Acc. 699 Training Department Records
      box 1 "Engineering . . . the Scientific Laboratory"

   Acc. 1660 Photographic Vertical File
      box 130 Research and Engineering Center; Interiors, Exteriors
      box 139 Executives; Kucher, Andrew

Vertical File
   Ford Motor Company; Scientific Laboratory
   Kucher, Andrew A.

 

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ATTN: The Benson Ford Research Center remains closed to the public for in-person research, tours, and visits. It will remain closed until further notice, but Research Center staff members continue to respond to inquiries. Please contact us by email, mail, or by submitting a question.

Mail:

Benson Ford Research Center
The Henry Ford
P.O. Box 1970
Dearborn, Michigan, USA 48121-1970