Ford to replace spark plugs with a laser ignition system

Article by Andrew Christian, on August 26, 2010

In a move that will delight those who dread false starts on cold mornings, Ford will soon be replacing spark plugs with a laser ignition system, according to a report by Telegraph. Ford engineers have partnered with Liverpool University scientists to develop an ignition system that uses focused laser beams to ignite the fuel.

While spark plugs often fail to ignite the fuel, the laser system is more reliable as it fires and produces enough heat to ignite the fuel within the combustion chamber. 

Project leader Dr. Tom Shenton explains that the lasers provide a greater chance of ignition because they can be split into multiple beams to focus on more than one ignition point.

In addition, the system improves engine performance when it's cold; it reduces emissions and it requires less fuel to be in the cylinders. 

In case you were wondering, the laser system requires less power than spark plugs. Researchers say that the laser will have to be fired over 50 times per second to produce 3000 RPM. Its advantages don't stop there.

Reflecting the laser back from the cylinder can provide information such as the type of fuel used and the level of ignition, which is useful to automatically adjust the quantities of air and fuel to optimize performance. Ford's low-volume vehicles will be the first recipients of this technology. Wait for it within the next few years. Other models will follow.

Topics: ford, technology

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