A research team in Japan and Romania has offered an alternative to conventional spark plugs, replacing them with durable lasers to ignite the fuel- air mixture that would lower consumption and raise gas mileage. Previously, lasers could deliver sufficient power to ignite a fuel- air mixture but were too large, fragile and impractical for automotive use.
However, the team will report that it has developed new, smaller, tougher lasers made not of crystalline materials but ceramics, which are far more resilient and can withstand the very high temperatures of a modern engine. The team’s ceramic laser cylinders (shaped roughly like spark plugs) accumulate energy sent via fiber optic cable from lower-power lasers. They then release the energy into the cylinder in pulses just 800 trillionths of a second long. The ceramic laser cylinders would also prevent the common corrosion of conventional spark plugs. The new lasers also offer the benefit of eliminating the limitation of the conventional plug that can only generate one type of spark.
Conventional spark plugs are limited by the fixed length of its gap. The laser would allow precise control over a car’s various systems and processes, including sensors and feedback loops so rapid that they can vary each individual combustion cycle.
[Source: Green Car Reports]