Laser ignition is an alternative method for igniting compressed gaseous mixture of fuel and air. The method is based on laser devices that produce short but powerful flashes regardless of the pressure in the combustion chamber. Usually, high voltage spark plugs are good enough for automotive use, as the typical compression ratio of an otto cycle internal combustion engine is around 10:1 and in some rare cases reach 14:1. However, fuels such as natural gas or methanol can withstand high compression without self ignition. This allows higher compression ratios, because it is economically reasonable, as the fuel efficiency of such engines is high. Using high compression ratio and high pressure requires special spark plugs that are expensive and their electrodes still wear out. Thus, even expensive laser ignition systems could be economical, because they would last longer.
- Marshall, Laura (September 2012). "Laser Car Ignition Dream Sparks Multiple Approaches". Photonics Spectra. Laurin Publishing. Retrieved 2014-04-07.
“Laser plugs have no electrodes. Assuming replacement every 500 hours, this is $16,000 per year just in spark plug costs, compared to approximately $10,000 for the laser diode array. The usual advertised lifetime for laser diodes is over 10,000 hours, and, since the duty factor is 10 to 20 percent, they can potentially last for much longer.”
- "New way to get that vital spark - University of Liverpool". Liv.ac.uk. 2008-10-31. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
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