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Lasers could replace spark plugs in car engines (BBC)

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eppur_se_muova Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 02:20 PM
Original message
Lasers could replace spark plugs in car engines (BBC)
By Jason Palmer
Science and technology reporter, BBC News

Car engines could soon be fired by lasers instead of spark plugs, researchers say.

A team at the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics will report on 1 May that they have designed lasers that could ignite the fuel/air mixture in combustion engines.

The approach would increase efficiency of engines, and reduce their pollution, by igniting more of the mixture.

The team is in discussions with a spark plug manufacturer.

The idea of replacing spark plugs - a technology that has changed little since their invention 150 years ago - with lasers is not a new one.
***
more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13160950




This would be really neat if IC engines weren't on the way out. ;)
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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 02:26 PM
Response to Original message
1. Sadly, another expensive failure point.
There are so many, now. It's not that they fail often, but when they do they're very, very expensive to repair. Diminishing returns in many cases, I think.

I can completely rebuild the ignition system of my 50 year old 5 hp. outboard motor for less than $80. That replaces everything. I also have a 1992 6 hp outboard made by the same company. It's actually almost the same engine. Replacing its ignition system would cost $250. It won't be around 50 years from now, but the old 5hp probably will. How much energy does it take to build an outboard motor, I wonder? Both start on the first pull and use the same amount of fuel to operate.
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JohnnyRingo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 03:01 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. I agree
Even people who own Ferarris carp about the cost of tune-ups and replacing belts because the work is astronomically priced on such exotics. This vision to replace the ignition system of mass produced cars with something so expensive that retro kits will no doubt be available through third party suppliers, is no more than the concept dream of a pencil pushing designer looking for something untried to hang his corporate cred upon.

Advanced systems that excel in efficiency already exist in integrated ditributorless and dual plug ignitions that are available at a fraction of the cost and complexity. This "innovation" would be akin to designing a $3,000 oil cleaning system that allows an extra couple thousand miles between oil changes (It'll save you money!).

Go back to figuring out how to hide even more cup holders and charging outlets in a Chevy Cruze.
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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 03:09 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. Yes, and it means a shorter overall life for the vehicle. Even today,
cars are junked that need nothing more than a repair. The problem is that the repair bill is more than the car is worth, so it is scrapped before its useful life is over. That means manufacturing a new car, which uses all sorts of resources.

I have two cars. A 1991 Volvo 740 wagon and a 1999 GMC Jimmy. The Jimmy will be in the junkyard long before the Volvo. It's just too damned expensive to repair. The next big repair sends it to the junkyard, no matter what system needs the repair. The Volvo, despite having all those electronics, is maintainable by me, so most repairs I can do myself. Not so the Jimmy. I almost can't change the spark plugs on it, although I have done it. The Volvo is no problem.
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madokie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 03:22 PM
Response to Reply #1
4. I can't remember when I had to do any ignition work on any of my auto's
other than change plugs and that is directly because of technology not luck or anything like that. I'm also old enough to remember when it was new points and plugs at 10,000 miles intervals and sometimes in between too. I like now much better

Oh that newer motor will use less fuel whether you want to believe that or not. they would almost have to be an OMC product in order for the basic motor still being the same over than many year span as I don't know of any others who kept the same basic design since the 50's
Rather have a picture of an OMC product boat motor as the title for a mercury boat motor, or any of the others for that matter.

I like the idea of a lazer plug cause we're going to be using ICE for years to come yet. :hi:
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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 03:39 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. Yowsa. Both are Johnsons.
Do you know how to tell the difference between a pre-BMP Johnson and an Evinrude of the same year?


If it starts on the first pull, it's a Johnson. The factory labeled the ones that didn't as Evinrudes. :rofl:


A few years ago, I bought a lousy old boat. A 1958 Johnson 35 hp Big Twin was hanging on the transom. I figured it would be a throwaway, but tried to start it anyhow. It had been sitting in this guy's barn for 10 years. I connected the tank and a battery. Pushed the choke button and hit the starter. 10 seconds later, it was running away like it hadn't been stored. I did go through the ignition system and put new seals and a new impeller in the lower unit, but it ran like a top as long as I owned it.

You've gotta love that kind of durability.
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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 03:53 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. Another Johnson Outboard story:
I post sometimes on a forum that talks about fixing outboard motors. Every Spring, we eagerly await the first post that has the title:

Help! My Johnson Don't Work!

Like clockwork, such a post shows up as soon as Spring arrives. It always gets everyone in a great mood.
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madokie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 03:59 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. I love it
much as I hate to admit it, we have a 18 ft Barretta that has a 3.7 litre mercury in it. Only reason I could go with it was two actually, one was close loop cooling and the other was that on that engine Mercury uses the head, pistons and rods designed for a ford 460 V8. I shit you not. says so in my manual. The crank and block is a Mercury part and it has a tad shorter stroke than the ford 460 that the internals came from, can't remember right now. I'm a ford man I guess you can tell. 170 hp and moves the boat right on down the river. I've got it set up where with 4 people it will stay on plane at about 18 miles per hour engine at 1800 rpms so it sounds good so thats the speed we travel at most, put the top up, I'm designated driver and let 'm pop a few cans or wine whichever. After about 40 years of drinking daily I just up and quit about 4 or 5 years ago and have no desire to drink again, wouldn't take a drink on a bet, just not there anymore for me. I notice that nerve of mine is starting to get a little frayed with some of my old buddies that still drink though and I hate that. but life goes one.
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Ian David Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 03:34 PM
Response to Original message
5. This might be especially helpful for small, two-stroke engines. n/t
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phantom power Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 05:01 PM
Response to Original message
9. I admit that sounds simpler than my idea for using sharks with lasers on their heads.
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