Ford Scientific and Research Laboratory

Answer

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 sulfur 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 H₂ 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

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  • 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
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  • Acc. 234 Speech Services Records
    • box 13 Kucher, Andrew A.
      • 1952, January 10, “A Glimpse into the Future”
      • 1953, May 6, “The Scientific Laboratory”
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  • 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
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  • Acc. 699 Training Department Records
    • box 1 "Engineering . . . the Scientific Laboratory"
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  • 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.
  • Last Updated Mar 27, 2024
  • Views 327
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Comments (1)

  1. Comment: a recently published book, “Long Hard Road” by Charles Murray, Purdue University Press, Sept 15, 2022, gives a history of the development of batteries for EVs. The Ford Motor Company Scientific Research Staff/Laboratory is given substantial credit for its research and development of the sodium sulfur battery. Drs Joseph T. Kummer and Neill Weber were the co-inventors of the sodium sulfur battery in the 1960s in the Lab. Although the Na-S battery is not used for electric vehicles, it has been used for load leveling electrical energy in Japan and other countries.
    by Ron Radzilowski, PhD, FASM on Oct 10, 2022

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