Lasers have become so small that the idea of a laser-based combustion may not be that far off. Engineers in Japan and Romania have developed a system that uses multibeam lasers, which means that a laser beam could replace spark plugs that were used to ignite the fuel/air mixture in internal combustion engines.
Developers say that the system could potentially cut emissions and improve fuel efficiency. The engineers are scheduled to reveal their findings on Sunday in Baltimore at the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics.
The group has been in talks with Nippon Soken, a Denso Group company, to come up with a list of commercial uses, said Denso International America Inc. spokeswoman Bridgette LaRose Gollinger.
Developers said that the system leads to a more complete combustion since multiple laser beams can be pointed at various depths of the combustion chamber. As a spark plug only ignites the fuel mixture located near the spark gap, combustion efficiency is reduced.
The British Broadcasting Corp. said that the laser device does not deteriorate over time. It also doesn’t have to be replaced at prescribed intervals. The spark plugs can last up to 100,000 miles. In addition, the lasers are composed of ceramic powder and so the heat is handled better within an internal combustion engine.