40 years after Mazda first introduced its then innovative new rotary engine power source, the Japanese automaker is looking into breaking new ground with their latest powertrain system.
According to Autocar, the next-generation engine, codenamed the ‘16X Renesis’, has been in development since 2007, but it was only recently that a new wrinkle was divulged about this new powertrain. Instead of the long-held practice of using traditional spark plugs to ignite the engine, Mazda is looking into using laser beams to serve the purpose of igniting the fuel and air mixture inside the engine.
With the increasing advancements being made in the country on the controlled use of high-powered lasers, Mazda is looking into tapping into this new breakthrough by using these ceramic-made lasers. These lasers measure only 9 mm in diameter and 11 mm in length, measurements that can easily fit into a car engine and take up less space than the space-mongering spark plug.
While full-scale testing on this new system is still far from finished, the belief is that by using lasers instead of spark plugs, the engine would be able to run leaner and control the timing of the engine’s ignition. This, in turn, could dramatically cut down on emissions and, thus, improve the car’s fuel economy.
Full story after the jump.
This system certainly plays into Mazda’s objective with their new 16X powertrain, one that puts great emphasis on improving fuel economy and torque delivery of their cars. The aluminum-built engine is a lot smaller than the existing rotary engine being used today, but nevertheless sees its displacement capacity increased from 1304cc to 1600cc.
Mazda’s increased emphasis in the development of the new engine certainly speaks to the lengths the company is taking in having powertrains that meet stringent emission regulations for their future models. This is especially true after one of their models, the RX-8, was withdrawn from Europe because the current rotary engine failed to pass the Euro 5 emissions regulations.
Whether there’s a future for this revolutionary new powertrain is still up in the air, but it certainly speaks volumes that Mazda, at least according to a source, has made it known that the use of lasers as ignitions are “absolutely possible”.