Gentlemen, Start Your Lasers: Ford dumping spark plugs in favor of focused light?

In a breakthrough that may make vehicle starting issues due to fouled plugs or inclement weather a thing of the past, engineers at Ford have reportedly teamed with scientists at Liverpool University to develop a laser beam ignition system to replace ye olde spark plug. The researchers claim their technology is more efficient, more reliable, and it will enable vehicles to start easier in extreme temperatures and damp climates.

Unlike traditional spark plugs (invented way back in 1839 by Edmond Berger), laser light may be split into multiple beams distributing ignition points within the cylinders – not just at the tip of the plug. This not only aids combustion, it also lowers emissions during cold starts. Researchers also point out that the lasers use less energy than their spark plug counterparts, eliminate wear items and wires (fiber optics will carry the laser beam to the cylinders), and improve fuel burn by "watching" ignition from within the combustion chamber and sending messages back to the ECU to adjust fuel mixtures, timing, and ignition.

Ford is expected to introduce the technology in its top models within the next few years, and then make it more widely available. Thanks to everyone for the tips!

[Source: Telegraph UK | Image: New Line Cinema]

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