This plasma ignition system can increase engine efficiency by 20%


Enlarge / This is the view of the top of a cylinder while the TPS ignition module emits a plasma pulse.

Transient plasma systems

2019, We’ve looked at an interesting new advanced ignition system from Transient Plasma Systems. It replaces the traditional spark plugs in a vehicle engine with an ignition module that uses very short duration (nanoseconds) pulses of plasma to ignite the fuel/air mixture in the cylinder. Back then, the technology was still being tested on the dyno, but it’s now almost production-ready after validation tests confirmed its potential to increase fuel efficiency by up to 20 percent when fitted to an existing engine.

“We show that the technology has met all the requirements that an advanced ignition system would have to meet to bring to market,” said Dan Singleton, Founder and CEO of TPS.

Aren’t we all going EV?

At this point, some of you are probably wondering why anyone even bothers to develop new technologies for internal combustion engines – after all, isn’t our future electric? but with the best will in the worldit will be many years before countries like the US stop selling new internal combustion engine vehicles and even longer before they are no longer allowed on our roads.

“There were a lot of pieces that analyzed the data and basically said, look, we have to be honest about what the adoption rate of electric vehicles is. So we believe that the future will be electric vehicles. But the question is, what are we doing as we ramp up? And I think when you look at the data, it’s pretty compelling that the best thing you can do is get CO2 Emissions down now. So that’s really where we’re seeing that adaptation as you launch this technology right away. That’s what our data shows is that there is instantaneous, meaningful CO2 discounts,” Singleton told me.

The TPS plasma ignition system is designed to be fitted to existing cars with very little modification. An ignition module replaces the regular spark plugs, and there’s a power module to control it, but other than that the only other modifications are in software, as the engine has to be remapped to take advantage of the new technology.

“Many OEMs we work with freeze their engine designs. They say: ‘No more new engine block, we might swap some parts, but we freeze the design.’ So basically what this technology is doing just has to fall into the holes that are already there,” Singleton explained.

“The important thing is that you need to expand the dilution limits – either by adding exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) or if you want it to be lean, you can do that too. And that’s obviously the main job of the advanced ignition system,” he told me.

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