Will There Be A Laser Ignition System In Your Next New Car?
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Will There Be A Laser Ignition System In Your Next New Car?

Laser ignitions will soon replace the conventional spark plug ignition system on all internal combustion engines.

Oliver Joseph Lodge (June 12, 1851 – August 22, 1940), the English Physicist who invented and patented the wireless telegraph also invented the Lodge Igniter, the first electric ignition system for internal combustion engines. The spark plug as we know it today was invented by Robert Bosch, a 30-year old German engineer in 1901. Until Bosch invented the spark plug, the auto industry considered the ignition system “the problem of problems” to be solved. Until that bleak December day, all they had was the Lodge Ignitor which was unreliable at best. Bosch had invented the low-voltage magneto in 1884. Within the decade, he invented a high-voltage magneto, which combined with his spark plug in 1901 produced the first reliable electric ignition system. The spark plug has served us faithfully for almost 110 years, but it may soon be replaced by the laser.

Advantages of A Laser Ignition System

Conventional Spark Plug Ignition Sysytem

Conventional Spark Plug Ignition Sysytem

A laser ignition system would produce a much cleaner, efficient and economical internal combustion engine than the spark plug ignition system. These engines will produce fewer pollutants and burn more air than fuel. So why have not they been used before now? Until recently, a laser system powerful enough to ignite the fuel-air mixture in the cylinders of an internal-combustion engine was far too bulky to be mounted under the hood of an automobile, truck or bus. The Japanese may have solved the size and weight problem with a ceramic laser small enough to screw directly into an engine's cylinder head just as the spark plugs do, yet powerful enough to ignite the fuel-air mixture.

According to Takunori Taira, an engineer at the National Institutes of Natural Sciences in Japan, this laser can be produced inexpensively and in the volume needed to meet the auto industries needs. Takunori Taira will demonstrate this new technology at the Conference on Laser and Electro Optics, next month in Baltimore, Maryland.

How Will This Technology Impact Manuifacturers of Spark Plugs and Other Ignition Sysytem Components?

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Comments (7)

Leave it to the Japanese to incorporate the useable laser for igniting a car for transportation. Thank you for the great information and education I can rely on acquiring when I read your articles. Out of votes so will buzz and twitter.

Very nice take on the matter, Jerry. You offer an article to gets us thinking.

Its gonna cost more to fix I am sure of that.

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Good comment Brenda. In the long run, a laser ignition system will be less expensive to maintain than the conventional system. Spark plugs have to be replaced routinely because their electrodes become fouled and erode. The secondary wiring develop cracks and leak high voltage to ground and has to be replaced. Distributor caps develop cracks and need to be replaced. Ignition high voltage coils develop short circuit and open circuits and need to be replace. With conventional ignition systems there are moving parts that wear out and need to be replace. For the most part, these problems will be eliminated with a laser system. A laser system would be quicker to troubleshoot and easier to repair when it requires servicing and that is where the real costs lie, not in parts.

Great article!

Kind of off the subject, but I wonder how far off the death of the internal combustion engine is? It will be replaced some day, if tech history is any guide.

the death of the combustion engine? As I see it this laser ignition system is much better than the spark plug method of combustion, therefore this means that it won't be long. I give it 10-25 years if laser combustion is as good as this article makes it out to be, as long as the cost isn't astronomical.