A new patent filing from Mazda suggests that the company is working to replace the spark plugs in its engines with lasers.
The Japanese automaker has filed a patent with the World Intellectual Property Organization for a control device that works with a laser-ignition engine, confirming that Mazda is working with laser ignition and hinting that it may end up in its cars in the future.
One of the issues with laser ignition of the fuel/air mixture in a cylinder is that the laser has the potential to get blocked by contaminates, lowering its potency once it reaches the mixture. This newly patented control device is able to detect contamination and then adjust a number of variables, including laser strength and fuel/air mixture levels to make sure the engine is running at a desired output.
Using laser ignition over spark plugs will lead to more efficient engines, as high compression ratios can be used in the cylinder without the need for increased voltage. This high voltage used in high compression engines also leads to spark plugs wearing out much faster, an issue that won’t affect a laser setup.
Mazda’s SkyActiv suite of fuel saving technologies includes high compression ratios in its small engines, which means they are good candidates for laser ignition.