First Lasers, Now Corona Ignition Proposed

Ronnie Schreiber
by Ronnie Schreiber
first lasers now corona ignition proposed

Federal Mogul's new Advanced Corona Ignition System

Last May, at the international Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics, a joint Japanese/Bulgarian team of researchers introduced ceramic based lasers that are compact, durable and powerful enough to be used to ignite a fuel/air mixture in a combustion engine. At the time, the researchers announced that they were working with spark plug maker Denso on commercializing the idea. That announcement was followed up by word that Mazda’s next generation “16X” rotary engine will exploit the compact size of those laser igniters. Now Michigan auto supplier Federal Mogul has released news about a US patent on their Advanced Corona Ignition System, or ACIS. Instead of a spark (or laser) the ACIS uses a high-intensity burst of plasma to ignite the fuel.

The corona can be controlled more than an electrical spark, allowing it to spread across the combustion chamber, resulting in a more complete burn. Federal Mogul says that using ACIS will improve fuel mileage by as much as 10% over conventional spark plug ignition, in part due to greater timing precision. That precision is said to be synergistic with direct injection. ACIS will also, F-M claims, allow leaner fuel/air mixtures, and cooler running engines. Because they don’t erode with use as conventional spark plugs do, the corona igniters will supposedly have longer service lives. No time frame for commercialization of the ACIS system was announced.

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6 of 23 comments
  • Herm Herm on Oct 10, 2011

    HELLO!, what about the radiation hazard?.. has everyone forgotten about the "Plasma Fireballs Sparkplugs" from the 90s?.. dont bother Googling it since the DOE sanitized the internets.. these things were so bad that mechanics had to line their underwear with aluminum foil.

  • Niky Niky on Oct 11, 2011

    Tinfoil underwear? Did those same mechanics wear tinfoil helmets when watching TV or standing under fluorescent (plasma) lights?

    • See 1 previous
    • Niky Niky on Oct 11, 2011

      There's a difference between an open mind and an uncritical one. There have been many "special" spark plugs from small manufacturers through the years, and a lot of them have claimed to use plasma for this or that effect, but none of them have been proven to do anything in real world testing. I've even bought a few of them, before concluding, like many gearheads with a wrench, an engine-programming computer and a nearby dyno, that your basic, run-of-the-mill standard plug is more than enough.

  • Blowfish Blowfish on Oct 11, 2011

    The Peltier Junction chip, convert heat into electricity, some of them suppose to crank out a sizable current, unlike Solar panel u need acreage of panel. They're not all that expensive either. I disagree. There are solid-state thermal to electric devices under development that will be able to utilize the waste heat. Here’s a paper on the subject. I think that much of the heat can be converted to electric and fed to an electric motor inline with the ICE essentially converting the heat to mechanical energy. I don’t know what percentage of that 80% will be recoverable, but some of it certainly can be captured and used.

  • Eldard Eldard on Oct 13, 2011

    And as usual, it would take the Japs to commercialize this. Like what they did with the hard drive and the plasma display.