From lasic surgery to sharks with lasers mounted on their heads, laser technology is gradually replacing past technologies which provided cutting and ignition mechanisms. Reporting this week in Autocar, the Mazda’s next-generation rotary engine may turn to a laser ignition system instead of traditional spark plugs.
How does the laser ignition beam work? Going by other prototypes released, the laser beam is delivered by a thin, fiber-optic cable to a focusing lens that would take up much less space than a spark plug, then delivered to other parts of the engine in a manner reminiscent of reflective mirror systems seen in many adventure films. This design allows engineers greater flexibility in designing valves and cylinders. The laser beam can be split to ignite the fuel mixture from multiple points deep in the cylinder, making for a more efficient burn than a spark plug can achieve, reducing emissions and getting better fuel economy. Another advantage to the laser system is that part of the beam can be reflected to a receiver and used to gather data on the fuel mixture and the quality of the burn.
The report has supposedly been leaked by a senior engineer within the program. Mazda’s research and development team has been hard at work on the 16X Renesis rotary since around 2007, while the engine has seen been through more than a few evolutions in the intervening years. The report claims that the design has seen displacement increase from 1.3 liters to 1.6 liters, while at least some parts of the engine have been designed to be made from aluminum to further reduce the total vehicle weight.
The end goal behind this project is to simultaneously increase fuel efficiency AND torque. A high torque level is not characteristic of this type of rotary engine. Utilizing a high-temperature laser ignition system would allow engineers to tune the Wankel to run leaner than systems that use a conventional spark plug. It would also reportedly allow the engine control module to more accurately adjust and monitor timing.
Phoenix Valley auto enthusiasts should keep an eye out for new current production laser post spark ignition technology at any Phoenix Valley area auto dealer. Phoenix Valley area motorists drive, not just for pleasure and adventure, but also often out of absolute necessity, thus wear and tear is inevitable, and the development of a new and improved ignition mechanism could mean a great deal. Phoenix Valley auto enthusiasts should plan on attending this years Phoenix Arizona International Auto Show to learn about the most recent concepts and innovations in the auto industry, taking place at the Phoenix Arizona Convention center over Thanksgiving weekend.