Forget Spark Plugs: Plasma-Based Ignition Makes Engines More Efficient

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Federal-Mogul Advanced Corona Ignition System

Federal-Mogul Advanced Corona Ignition System

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As long as the internal combustion engine has existed, engineers have been trying to find better ways of igniting the highly combustable mixture of air and gasoline that powers cars. 

Everything from higher voltage coils through to electronically-timed ignition and making spark plug tips from metals like Iridium and platinum have helped spark plug manufactuers increase the reliability of spark plugs, but now researchers at Federal-Mogul have developed a fuel ignition system which doesn’t use an electrical spark

Called the Advanced Corona Ignition System (ACIS), the system makes use of high-energy plasma to ignite the fuel inside the combustion cylinder, resulting in a 10 percent reduction in fuel consumption in a 1.6 liter turbocharged engine. 

Plasma -- the fourth and most common state of matter if you remember your high school physics classes -- has some pretty impressive physical properties. 

Most useful in this case is its ability to conduct electrical charge extremely easily, meaning it can be the perfect delivery system for high-voltage ignition systems. 

And unlike a spark plug, which concentrates electrical energy in a very small area inside the combustion chamber, a high energy plasma source can spread itself throughout the combustion chamber, resulting in a more thorough and powerful explosion.

ACIS also allows engines to run leaner, increasing exhaust gas recirculation and cylinder compression to produce a lower emissions as well. 

Longer-lasting and not susceptible to the same corrosion found in traditional spark plugs, Federal-Mogul says the plasma plugs could be implemented by any automaker without any major engine redesigns. 

Like the laser based spark plug systems being developed in the U.K. and Japan, the new plasma-based ignition could offer automakers a way of increasing power and decreasing fuel consumption without resorting to expensive hybrid systems. 

There’s no information when or if the ACIS spark system will be commercially available, although it isn’t the only alternative to spark plugs going through development at present. 


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Comments (4)
  1. Plasma ignition technology looks great and if it can reduce fuel consumption by 10% that is significant. Let me correct an erroneous statement in the article: "...the new plasma-based ignition could offer automakers a way of increasing power and decreasing fuel consumption without resorting to expensive hybrid systems." GM's new eAssist "Light Hybrid" system is the first Cost-Effective hybrid concept that can pay for itself in less than 2 years, instead of 8 to 10 years for a full hybrid system. For this reason alone it should be on every gas powered vehicle, along with a Plasma ignition. eAssist captures braking energy normally lost as heat and uses it to help drive the car - Increasing Fuel Mileage & Saving Money on brake system service.

  2. The FireStorm Plasma iPlug is a new entry in the formerly mundane area of Spark Plugs. All Spark Plugs produce "sparks" to ignite the Air Fuel Mixture in the combustion Chambers. FireStorm is different, it produces "PLASMA". By doing that, it eliminates the Catalytic Converter and EGR Systems and can still pass future emission requirements in California.

    Here is a clip:

    Further testing after that clip was shot in Detroit proved a 70% savings in fuel all while affording a 125 More Horsepower.
    It is a Paradigm Shift in Air Fuel Ratio as this plug operates at 30 to 1 Air to Fuel Ratio. All current IC engines operate at 14.7 to 1 and require a Cat and EGR.

    FireStorm can even crack water right in

  3. America must realize that we are on two curves and they are about to intersect soon. First the price/complexity/fossil fuel price curve, then the Solar/ Wind/electric vehicle cost curve. With these ever more complex machinations to improve the efficiency of gasoline engines, we see an increase in cost/complexity of manufacture against the three moving part electric systems possible today, and expect battery chemistry to resolve the distance factor for electrics, even as fossil fuel prices soar with scarcity and stronger Yuan demand.
    Electric Bullet trains as found in Asia and Europe resolve the high jet fuel consumption of the Americican Jet Plane syndrome, and will eventually be adopted even in America, leaving only short trips in demand.

  4. Hi, it makes me so angry, these makers/RD guys treat us like idiots. Volvo tested successfully a Kinetic energy recovery/storage system, and it gave a 25% reduction in fuel in the prototype stages, then suppressed until Formula 1 racing wanted to make hybrids part of their designs, then they made a 80hp, 8 second/lap limit, and with laps at avg of 1min 45sec, that is a high % energy recovery at the Highest efficiency powerplants etc.

    A design that absorbs electricity from the universe as Tesla (Man not Corp.) tested/invented, he died poor in a cheap hotel after designing/implementing the AC grid for Us, they have hidden his knowledge from us. We have installed Geothermal/Air Srce Heat Pumps since 1946 they offered 80% heat fuel saving....

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