USA: Ford boffins nix A/C click

By just-auto.com editorial team | 10 April 2001

Ford Motor Company scientists claim to be experimenting with a black gooey substance that, they say, has the unique ability to change viscosity on command.

Magnetorhelogical material (MR material), the 'official' lab name can behave as a free-flowing liquid, a paste-like solid, or anything in between, switching properties instantly when a magnetic field is applied.

Ford is said to be experimenting with the use of MR material in air-conditioning compressors as a way to subdue the audible clicking that occurs when the clutch engages and disengages. The MR material allows the clutch to gradually engage, providing a smoother, less noisy contact or "soft start."

When the clutch disengages, the material reverts from the solid "locked-up" state to a fluid to let the clutch slip out of contact. This soft engaging and disengaging of the clutch also makes power surges from the engine less noticeable, a condition typically felt in vehicles equipped with small displacement engines and air conditioning.

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