Revisiting the concept of leaner fuel mixtures to run Internal Combustion Engines is a favorite topic here. Latest news has lasers as the solution to the problem of igniting leaner ratios ex. gasoline to water. The claims are that the new advance in laser technology enables smaller lasers to fit inside the space that is normally reserved for spark plugs. Whether they will be drop in replacements or not is yet to be released.
Without saying what the comparison is the researchers discount plasma spark plugs saying the problem with plasma (or as they refer to them – “high energy”) spark plugs is wear on the tips due to the metal being worn away after a relatively short period of usage. We have documented such issues with plasma plugs built using conventional spark plugs tips but the Firestorm plugs claim to have solved that issue by using a non conventional metal for the tip.
However the really interesting aspect of using lasers for ignition (apart from the obvious reference to Stanley Meyers Water Vehicle) is in the following quote :
"Lasers inject their energy within nanoseconds, compared with milliseconds for spark plugs.
Timing – quick combustion – is very important. The more precise the timing, the more efficient the combustion and the better the fuel economy”
With nanosecond control that would provide much greater efficiency for energy usage. The lasers will most likely need to be powered with battery technology so every possible energy saving that can be achieved will contribute to the mileage of the vehicle. Being able to run an engine at leaned out ratios of 80:1 or even greater would certainly make a big dent in the short term issue of global energy supply.
It might even allow us the possibility of being able to grow or manufacture enough combustible fuel to replace oil and gas when it runs out. However the increase in efficiency will only result in another 3 – 4 times more mileage for the amount of fuel consumed. That definitely gives us all some more time but only if every vehicle was converted to use this new laser technology today. Unfortunately that is not going to happen.
Due to the way the current system structured and run it will be at least 10 years before every car in the world could be retrofitted with this technology and that is simply too little too late. At best the laser spark plug technology will provide a couple of years extension in the global fuel supply but as the only people who could afford to buy fuel anyway will be the ultra rich or governments and corporations that won’t mean anything to the average person.
However if for some amazing reason the technology turns out to be relatively easy to replicate and people are able to build and install their own components then we will see a very positive step for global transportation issues. Of course that doesn’t solve the issue of what to use for fertiliser on the mega farms that feed the world but at least the people who survive the coming period of mass starvation will be able to drive their cars literally on the smell of an oily rag.