Ford has filed a patent for an electric supercharger that could double as an on-board compressor pump or vacuum pump.
The patent describes an electric supercharger with a valve that would block the passageway to the engine, directing the compressed air into a separate sealed portion so it can be used as a source of compressed air or as a vacuum.
“Methods and systems are provided for operating an electric supercharger as an on-board air pump and/or vacuum pump,” the patent says. “During conditions when a vehicle is not being propelled and the vehicle engine is idling, a portion of an air intake passage is sealed and the supercharger is operated to deliver compressed air into the sealed portion. Compressed air can then be picked up directly from the sealed portion for use in tire inflation, or picked up via an ejector to provide vacuum for vacuum actuators.”
In short, the supercharger could be used to inflate a vehicle’s tires, for example, so long as the vehicle is not in motion. The patent also mentions how the supercharger/compressor/vacuum could be used to operate a vehicle’s air suspension as well, or to operate a brake booster. In theory, such technology could help Ford save on costs, as would not have to use a separate device to control such systems.
It’s not clear if such a system will ever appear on a production car – Ford files a ton of patents, often for weird and zany devices that will probably never see the light of day. Such a system could be useful in a pickup truck, however – maybe we’ll see it on the forthcoming hybrid F-150. Who knows?
a version of this article first appeared on AutoGuide