A new generation of spark plug technology is currently in development by Federal-Mogul Corp., which sends a web of plasma bolts into cylinders to ignite fuel.
According to the company, at least 10 automakers are testing the technology to see how it can apply in real-world vehicles. Called Advanced Corona Ignition System, engineers at Federal-Mogul believe it could help improve fuel economy, lower emissions, and boost engine performance. Federal-Mogul is just one of several companies developing new-generation spark plugs, and believes its ignition system could be used in some engines by as early as 2017.
Spark plugs are pretty much the same as a century ago. Current technology doesn’t allow the length and strength of a spark to vary, but Federal-Mogul’s system will allow engineers to change the shape of the new plug’s tip and tune the electronics giving the plug the capability of varying the timing, duration, and length of the plasma arcs.
As with all new technology, cost is a key factor in whether or not it will be adopted. Currently, the Advanced Corona Ignition System needs its own computer and electronics in order to function, which not only complicates the manufacturing process, but adds additional cost and another device that can fail.
Federal-Mogul believes that the technology will work and could provide significant improvements to vehicles on the road in the future.
[Source: Automotive News]