An advanced new ignition module for cars could potentially make internal combustion engines significantly more fuel-efficient, reducing their environmental impact and bringing down operating costs for their owners.
Transient Plasma Systems (TPS) recently conducted validation testing of its plasma-based ignition module on a Toyota 2.5-litre engine commonly used in the manufacturers’ Camry models.
“Results indicate a brake-specific fuel consumption benefit of up to 6% with minor calibration changes, which include a multi-pulse ignition strategy, increased external exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), and optimised spark timing,” TPS said.
Over a drive cycle, TPS estimated the improvement in overall fuel efficiency on existing engines could be greater than 20%.
The module uses a nanosecond pulsed power ignition system consisting of a coil and plug that consumes less energy than a conventional spark plug while still producing a sufficient spark to fire up your engine.
Green Car Reports explains that the electrical energy in a standard spark plug is concentrated in a very small part of the combustion chamber.
High-energy plasma spreads throughout the chamber, creating a more powerful explosion.
The image below shows an example of a plasma-based ignition module.
TPS believes despite the global switch toward electric vehicles, combustion engines will still be around for some time, which means that their emissions still deserve attention.
However, the company’s founder, Dan Singleton, told Ars Technica that many vehicle manufacturers had frozen their engine designs, which meant little improvements in fuel efficiency or emissions would be coming from the engines themselves.
The TPS module’s benefit over rival products is that it can be retrofitted to existing engines without substantial modifications, with only software changes needed to achieve optimal operation.
The modules are also compatible with efficiency techniques such as exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) and are not susceptible to corrosion, meaning they will last longer than spark plugs.