Environmentally friendly cars with laser ignitions and jet engines

In a few years, some Ford vehicles may no longer have spark plugs. Instead, they'll be started by laser ignition systems.

The idea of a car being powered by a jet engine may bring to mind visions of powerfulness and speed, but not necessarily environmental friendliness plus low emissions and almost silent performance.

But that's exactly what ETV Motors, an Israeli company outside Tel Aviv, is currently testing in a car -- a shell of a Toyota Prius that's had its internal combustion engine replaced, reports Reuters:

Instead, an electric engine, containing a supercapacity battery and a micro-jet turbine engine, powers from the rear as it drives almost silently around a test track.... a  micro-turbine engine [acts] as an on-board charger and a high-density battery...

Admittedly,  it currently delivers only 30 to 50 miles of driving per charge, but it's a promising concept.

Another intriguing project on the automotive front is research into replacing a car's spark plugs with a laser ignition system. Ford Motor Co. and engineers at the University of Liverpool have received a grant to develop such a system, which could cut car exhaust emissions.

Here's how it would work, says GardenandGreen.co.uk:

Unlike the venerable sparkplug ignition system, which fires just one or at best two sparks right next to the combustion chamber roof, it is possible to ‘aim’ a laser ignition system to ignite the fuel anywhere in the combustion chamber, therefore focusing the beam where the fuel is most concentrated. By using ultra-fast computing to direct the laser, the engine can be run on a much more efficient or ‘leaner’ fuel/air mixture, which would directly cut a car’s carbon emissions. This heightened control also helps overcome the poor cold-start performance of engines running high blends of biofuels.

This technology is expected to go mainstream within just a few years, reports Automobile magazine.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.