Rotary-engined Mazda RX9 to Go Zoom-Zoom, Pew-Pew
Mazda‘s next rotary-powered RX sports car will be the first application of new laser-ignition technology, marking yet another “first” for the company whose identity is built on a cornerstone of rotary-powered sportscars (zoom-zoom, and all that).
As we reported back in April, the use of conventional “spark” plugs to ignite fuel will soon give way to high-energy lasers, which would be able to deliver more energy more precisely, igniting the air-fuel mixture in the center of the combustion chamber and allowing the explosion to fully expand, compared to today’s spark plugs that ignite the mixture closest to the plug (or, sometimes, plugs).
This laser-powered technology is expected to be especially beneficial to Wankel engines (left) which – because of their (generally) larger combustion-chamber volumes and more demanding life cycles (plugs in rotary engines fire several times per revolution, rather than once every 4 revolutions) – tend to chew through plugs like it’s their job. It’s hoped that the new lasers will help clean up the car’s emissions (CARB certification was a bit of headache for Mazda’s early RENESIS engines) and improve reliability while reducing the overall weight and complexity of the next RX.