You know, I have one simple request. And that is to have engines with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads!
Dr. Evil would be so happy to hear about Ford and the University of Liverpool recently reported work to replace the high-voltage spark plug with high-tech laser ignition systems – literally attached to their heads.
Continuing their work to improve engine technology for maximum efficiency and power, Ford once again shows it certainly is the greenest and most innovative of the American car companies. The recent flurry of engine efficiency innovations also repudiates the arguments that tried to explain away the flat-line in fuel efficiency since 1980 as a “technological barrier” we just couldn’t overcome because engines were just too darn advanced already.
Ford reportedly plans to install the laser ignitions in a select range of vehicles in the next few years before expanding the laser ignitions on a larger scale. The technology works like this: The laser is quickly directed toward the combustion chamber where the fuel is most concentrated, allowing the engine to run on a more efficient mix of fuel and air. Bigger diameter valves that improve engine gas flow could be used in such a system because the thin fiber optic cable delivering the laser beam is smaller than a spark plug. The laser is also more reliable than a traditional spark plug.
The laser ignition may also overcome a significant barrier to widespread adoption of biofuels — starting the vehicle when the engine is cold. According to the Telegraph, reflecting part of the laser back from inside the cylinder can deliver information on fuel type and ignition level to allow vehicles to optimally adjust the air/fuel mix.
We can only imagine what the future has in-store for this new engine technology…