Lexus IS Forum banner

1 - 9 of 9 Posts

·
Übercargeek
Joined
·
16,623 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Will lasers replace spark plugs?

Delirious and insane as that sounds, that's precisely what Ford and Liverpool University are working on:

Cars to be started by lasers instead of spark plugs
The familiar sound of cars failing to start in the cold weather is set to become a thing of the past after scientists developed lasers which can be used to replace spark plugs in petrol engines.

By Richard Gray, Science Correspondent - Telegraph.co.uk

Scientists at Liverpool University and engineers at car giants Ford have developed a new ignition system which uses focused beams of laser light to ignite the fuel.

The researchers claim the technology is more reliable and efficient than current spark plug technology and will enable cars to start more easily in cold and damp conditions.

It is understood that Ford, the world's fourth largest car manufacturer, hopes to put the laser ignition system into their top of the range vehicles within the next couple of years before making it more widely available.

Dr Tom Shenton, a reader in engineering at Liverpool University who is leading the project, said: "We are running engines everyday in our laboratory with this system now and our ultimate objective is have it inside cars driven by consumers.

"Lasers can be focused and split into multiple beams to give multiple ignition points, which means it can give a far better chance of ignition.

"This can really improve the performance of the engine when it is cold, as this is the time when around 80 per cent of the exhaust emissions are produced and the engine is at is least efficient.

"The laser also produces more stable combustion so you need to put less fuel into the cylinder."

In current engines spark plugs are positioned at the top or bottom of a cylinder and they can often fail to ignite fuel effectively if the petrol is not in the right position in the cylinder.

In the new system the spark plug is replaced by a laser powered by the car battery which is sent along thin optical fibres into the engine's cylinders where lenses focus the beam into an intense pinprick of light.

When fuel is injected into the engine, the laser is fired, producing enough heat to ignite the fuel and power the engine.

The researchers claim that the laser, which will need to fire more than 50 times per second to produce 3000 RPM, will require less power than traditional spark plugs.

Some of the laser can be reflected back from inside the cylinder to provide information for the car on the type of fuel being used and the level of ignition, allowing the car to adjust the quantities of air and fuel automatically to optimise the performance.

This raises the prospect of mixed fuel cars which can run on a number of different biofuels while ensuring they still run efficiently.

A spokesman for Ford said: "Ford, like all vehicle manufacturers, is obliged by European legislation to reduce emissions and our work in this area is led by Ford's UK R&D centre in Essex.

"This collaboration with the University of Liverpool is part of that effort, with Ford contributing in kind, with engineering time and equipment use, as well as financially."

The project has now been awarded a £200,000 grant by the Carbon Trust to help develop the system further. Transport accounts for 25 per cent of carbon emissions and it is hoped new ignition systems can help to cut this level of pollution.

Robert Trezona, Head of Research & Development at the Carbon Trust, said: "Laser ignition is attractive in a number of ways.

"It has a real potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the future by improving the ignition and combustion of fuel, particularly in engines starting from cold, but it can also be used in mixed fuel engines such as biofuels."

Cars to be started by lasers instead of spark plugs - Telegraph
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,111 Posts
Scientists at Liverpool University and engineers at car giants Ford have developed a new ignition system which uses focused beams of laser light to ignite the fuel.

The researchers claim the technology is more reliable and efficient than current spark plug technology and will enable cars to start more easily in cold and damp conditions.

It is understood that Ford, the world's fourth largest car manufacturer, hopes to put the laser ignition system into their top of the range vehicles within the next couple of years before making it more widely available.

Dr Tom Shenton, a reader in engineering at Liverpool University who is leading the project, said: "We are running engines everyday in our laboratory with this system now and our ultimate objective is have it inside cars driven by consumers.

"Lasers can be focused and split into multiple beams to give multiple ignition points, which means it can give a far better chance of ignition.

"This can really improve the performance of the engine when it is cold, as this is the time when around 80 per cent of the exhaust emissions are produced and the engine is at is least efficient.

"The laser also produces more stable combustion so you need to put less fuel into the cylinder."

In current engines spark plugs are positioned at the top or bottom of a cylinder and they can often fail to ignite fuel effectively if the petrol is not in the right position in the cylinder.

In the new system the spark plug is replaced by a laser powered by the car battery which is sent along thin optical fibres into the engine's cylinders where lenses focus the beam into an intense pinprick of light.

When fuel is injected into the engine, the laser is fired, producing enough heat to ignite the fuel and power the engine.

The researchers claim that the laser, which will need to fire more than 50 times per second to produce 3000 RPM, will require less power than traditional spark plugs.

Some of the laser can be reflected back from inside the cylinder to provide information for the car on the type of fuel being used and the level of ignition, allowing the car to adjust the quantities of air and fuel automatically to optimise the performance.

This raises the prospect of mixed fuel cars which can run on a number of different biofuels while ensuring they still run efficiently.

A spokesman for Ford said: "Ford, like all vehicle manufacturers, is obliged by European legislation to reduce emissions and our work in this area is led by Ford's UK R&D centre in Essex.

"This collaboration with the University of Liverpool is part of that effort, with Ford contributing in kind, with engineering time and equipment use, as well as financially."

The project has now been awarded a £200,000 grant by the Carbon Trust to help develop the system further. Transport accounts for 25 per cent of carbon emissions and it is hoped new ignition systems can help to cut this level of pollution.

Robert Trezona, Head of Research & Development at the Carbon Trust, said: "Laser ignition is attractive in a number of ways.

"It has a real potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the future by improving the ignition and combustion of fuel, particularly in engines starting from cold, but it can also be used in mixed fuel engines such as biofuels."
Cars to be started by lasers instead of spark plugs - Telegraph
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,246 Posts
Now that is sure interesting.
 

·
Technical Poseur
Joined
·
23,313 Posts
My one concern with this, what happens when you have an injector misfire? Do you start to score the cylinder wall? Fuel is translucent as is air "clear" will this not allow some high concentrated light to pass through the air/fuel charge and again, hit the cylinder wall?
 

·
\/ Awesome \/
Joined
·
11,394 Posts
My one concern with this, what happens when you have an injector misfire? Do you start to score the cylinder wall? Fuel is translucent as is air "clear" will this not allow some high concentrated light to pass through the air/fuel charge and again, hit the cylinder wall?
I think the beam of the laser would have to be significantly more intense to score the cylinder wall.


MY one concern is that the lens that the laser comes out of must be clean. As far as I know, engines burn fairly clean but carbon buildup is a fact of engine life and can't really be stopped. So if that lens gets dirty does the laser still give the proper ignition?
 

·
Technical Poseur
Joined
·
23,313 Posts
I'm guessing fuel induction services would be an every 50,000 mile ordeal. I cracked my head off my IS at about 93,000 miles. It was STUPID clean in there with an entire life of premium fuel, aggressive driving and proper run cycles (no 3 mile trips in the cold)

Lextasy23 said the same thing about his car at 198,000 miles. Its not as big of a concern any more with direct injection and modern materials as you would think.
 

·
truth versions only
Joined
·
4,704 Posts
^^There aren't a lot of cars with direct injection, and I think you meant fuel or port injection ;). However direct injection does burn hella cleaner than port and if your IS's are that clean imagine what the direct injected cylinders will look like.

I remember opening up my 1995 Mustang and still seeing the cylinder ring seating marks on the cylinder walls (over 100K miles on the clock). Clean as a whistle too.
 

·
Technical Poseur
Joined
·
23,313 Posts
^^There aren't a lot of cars with direct injection, and I think you meant fuel or port injection ;). However direct injection does burn hella cleaner than port and if your IS's are that clean imagine what the direct injected cylinders will look like.

I remember opening up my 1995 Mustang and still seeing the cylinder ring seating marks on the cylinder walls (over 100K miles on the clock). Clean as a whistle too.
I said what I meant and meant what I said. (My IS obviously is NOT direct injection but an engine which would have laser ignition most likely would be) Direct injection is the rapidly approaching future. It allows for a significantly more thorough burn, better economy, and cleaner running. You dont have relatively weak injectors spraying fuel at valve stems and runner ports. "wet" ports and valves are a big cause of carbon build up, especially in turbo cars. (Think VW FSI or Ford ECOboost if you need an example)

Wait...I didnt go back and reread the thread, why are we on carbon build up? Oh! Lense for laser getting dirty. Ummm...hrm. K next question I guess, will the laser provide every ignition per revolution or will they develop some sort of low compression glow plug to keep it running?
 
1 - 9 of 9 Posts
Top