Environmentally friendly cars with laser ignitions and jet engines

  • close
    In a few years, some Ford vehicles may no longer have spark plugs. Instead, they'll be started by laser ignition systems.
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption

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

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.

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.