Sometimes engineers find themselves up against Mother Nature. Dearborn-based Ford Motor Co. engineers have developed a new screen to prevent spiders from building webs in vehicles that can block fuel vapor lines. The spider screen is now being implemented across the Ford lineup in North America.
David Gimby, a fuel systems engineer at Ford, began looking at keeping spiders out of Ford vehicles in 1999, especially yellow sac spiders native to in North America. Gimby says keeping fuel vapor lines clear is important for air and vapor circulation for a vehicle’s carbon canister, where fuel vapors are captured so they don’t enter the environment.
“These particular Arachnids are not sedentary — they are hunters and constantly roaming,” Gimby says. “When it’s time to build a birthing cocoon or an over-winter cocoon, they seek a cavity or a depression, like a fuel vapor line opening, which allows them to maximize the use of their silk.”
He says blocked fuel vapor lines can lead to engine damage and diminished vehicle performance. The Ford-developed screen keeps spiders out of the fuel vapor line, but they allow air and vapor to flow for more optimal vehicle operation.
“We studied these species to discern how they nest, then designed an effective device for excluding the larger, problematic spiders from nesting in our cars,” Gimby says.
The spider screen will go global with the launch of the 2016 Ford Focus RS.