Home Science Energy Lasers may replace spark plugs in future cars

Japanese engineers and scientists are working on a better way to ignite the engines of cars. In the future spark plugs may be replaced with tiny laser beams.

A team at the National Institute of Natural Sciences in Okazaki, Japan is working on a way to use a laser to replace the spark plug in motorized vehicles with internal combustion engines.

If successful, we may be driving with lasers in our cars rather than spark plugs and, in the process, may better fuel efficiency.

Spark plugs, which are electrical devices located in the cylinder head of some internal combustion engines, waste a bit of gasoline with each cycle of the cylinders as it ignites compressed fuels, such as gasoline.

However, lasers will eliminate that waste, giving us better miles per gallon (liter) with our cars.

The biggest hurdle with this new technology is placing a powerful laser into a very small volume and making sure it doesn't impact the rest of the engine.

For more on the story, please read the April 23, 2011 BBC News article 'Lasers could replace spark plugs in car engines.'





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William Atkins

William Atkins completed educational degrees in science (bachelor’s in physics and mathematics) from Illinois State University (Normal, United States) and business (master’s in entrepreneurship and bachelor’s in industrial relations) from Western Illinois University