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Windows 7: Laser Ignition May Replace the Spark Plug

22 Jul 2009   #1

Laser Ignition May Replace the Spark Plug

Following collaborative work with Ford Motor Company (Dearborn, MI) and GSI Group (Rugby, England), engineers at The University of Liverpool (England) have reported encouraging results in their quest for laser ignition (LI) in automobile engines. The approach offers the potential to address both increased fuel efficiency and reduced levels of harmful emissions.

This month the team is embarking on the next phase of the research to develop LI systems for next-generation car engines based on efficient, downsized gasoline direct injection (GDI) technologies. The work is funded by the Carbon Trust, an independent company established by the UK government to accelerate the move to a low carbon economy.

GDI, a method for injecting fuel into the combustion chamber of each engine cylinder, enabled superior fuel efficiency--but GDI won't realize its full potential until there's an alternative to spark plugs, the 90-year old technology we still rely on to ignite the fuel, the researchers say.

Since 2002, members of the University of Liverpool's Laser Group have worked with colleagues from the Powertrain Laboratory to develop a laser ignition (LI) system that could circumvent the limitations of spark plugs and be used with existing GDI engine designs. Previous work had demonstrated successful LI in gas turbines and rockets, but automotive engines were a very different proposition.

Full Story: Laser Focus World - University scientists enter new phase of automotive laser ignition research with Ford
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