16

Here is a fun and illuminating article for those of us that value and wish to save the internal combustion engine.

Posted by $ Olduglycarl 6 months, 2 weeks ago to Technology
56 comments | Share | Flag

Click the link to watch the Transient plazma ignition system as opposed to the standard spark plug.

Could 1980s technology keep internal-combustion engines on the road?
Kyle Smith
20 January 2022
Share
Read enough automotive-related articles on the internet and you will be convinced the internal-combustion engine is being hunted with a fervor typically reserved for villains in Liam Neeson movies. Okay, that conclusion may be extreme—but it holds some truth. Regulations regarding emissions and engine efficiency grow stricter with each passing year and manufacturers are faced with an impossible task: Take a centuries-old design and make it endlessly better—faster, cleaner, stronger, ad infinitum. At some point, progress will plateau, and the cost of ICE experimentation will simply outweigh the incremental gains in efficiency and power. The good news? The internal-combustion engine might have one more trick up its cylinder sleeve.

Fuel, air, and spark—the three things an engine needs to run. Air is one ingredient that it makes sense to leave alone. Fuel type is essentially decided by contemporary infrastructure. (Synthetic fuels are in the works, but we’re thinking of large-scale changes in the ICE design that would extend far beyond the top echelons of motorsport to the everyman (and woman) on the street.) That leaves spark as the low-hanging fruit in this equation. If a different type of ignition could more completely burn the fuel and air mixture, it would not only reduce emissions but also increase efficiency.

Enter plasma ignition.


This is what plasma looks like compared to the sharp spark of a traditional ignition system. Transient Plasma Systems, Inc
Traditional spark ignition is very simple. A coil transforms the 12 volts from the car’s charging system into thousands of volts that discharge quickly to jump between the electrode and the ground strap of a spark plug. This forms a sharp but small zap that lights off the chemical chain-reaction that expands the air and fuel mixture to push the piston down and thus rotate the crankshaft. In order for the fuel-and-air mixture to be lit by this type of ignition system, it needs to be fairly close to a stoichiometric mixture; right around 14.7 to 1. That ratio—14.7 grams of air to one gram of fuel—puts a ceiling on efficiency. But here’s where things get interesting.

If we were able to lean out the mixture by adding air but still getting the same in-chamber expansion, and the corresponding force exerted on the piston, efficiency would increase dramatically. A lean mixture is much harder to ignite, though. So hard that you’d need transient plasma to make it happen in any reliable fashion. Technically, the spark on a standard spark plug does create plasma when it ionizes the gasses between the electrode and ground strap; transient plasma takes that small arc and dials it up to 11. If a spark plug is a zap in the chamber, plasma ignition is a TIG welder mounted in a cylinder head.

difference between spark ignition and plasma
Ionfire Ignition
This much more violent mode of ignition can regularly and predictably ignite extremely lean air/fuel mixtures. One of transient plasma’s most obvious advantages, besides a higher-efficiency combustion cycle, is that relatively low amounts of energy are used to perform a lot of electronic “work.” (The difference between energy and power, for those of you who enjoy recalling high school chemistry class.) The spark itself is not lighting a fire to burn the fuel; rather, a rapid-fire sequence of low-range electronic pulses generates a highly potent electric arc, which then breaks the bonds holding the oxygen molecules together and allows the electrons to shoot out, essentially attacking the hydrocarbons (fuel) and creating combustion. This means we are not waiting on a flame to consume the fuel and, in the amount of time between combustion and exhaust strokes, we get a more complete burn.



The most fascinating part? This technology is not new. We traced the basic concept to patents from the 1980s, but technology has obviously come a long way since then. Outfits like Transient Plasma Systems, Inc. and Ionfire Ignition are reviving the concept and the reintroduction is timed quite nicely. (If you’ll forgive the pun.) TPS ignition systems have been tested and show a 20 percent increase in efficiency while also decreasing harmful emissions like NOx by 50 percent. Numbers like that aren’t a silver bullet in the ICE gun, but plasma ignition could keep our beloved internal combustion engines on the road longer than we’d expected. TPS claims it is working with manufacturers to integrate its ignition tech into production engines, but we are still a few years away from seeing the fruit of that collaboration.

The internal-combustion engine has undergone constant evolution for centuries, and at this point we’re extracting incremental gains. Plasma ignition could be one of the last significant improvements to be found in the ICE story. Here’s hoping that this ’80s tech, refined for the 21st century’s needs, makes its way onto the streets.
SOURCE URL: https://www.hagerty.com/media/maintenance-and-tech/could-1980s-technology-keep-internal-combustion-engines-on-the-road/?hashed_email=05229b8e96da39364e23f52eda3e341822480f9dbb679328f1f2bb2bbf3aedf3


Add Comment

FORMATTING HELP

All Comments Hide marked as read Mark all as read

  • 10
    Posted by $ allosaur 6 months, 2 weeks ago
    This is me dino's unreal for really unreal reality check of the day.
    The Left will view anything that has to do with gasoline as a threat to their control over others.
    If it ain't (psst! hate a cloudy day) solar, (psst! unreliable) wind or burining coal at power plants so electric cars can be plugged in, then it will always be something racist.
    Reply | Mark as read | Best of... | Permalink  
  • Posted by $ DriveTrain 6 months, 2 weeks ago
    This is encouraging, but it's not going to make so much as a fly-fart of difference in the face of the "ban gas cars" propaganda machine. To take a step back to the larger context of political activism on behalf of human rights and liberty, what GOP "leadership" and rank-and-file alike should be demanding is a simple alteration - yet an enormously difficult alteration, given the collectivist agenda:

    Consumer choice. As opposed to the totalitarian-wannabe edicts of the Newsoms and Bidens of "You may not sell gas-powered vehicles after X date." IOW, if you want an electric car, buy and drive an electric car. If you want a gas car, buy and drive a gas car. Simple. If people see electric vehicles - and the power plants that are needed to charge them - as somehow "cleaner," let them be free to make that choice. But take your stinking "green" paws off my car, you damn dirty democrat ape! There is zero justification for removing, at gunpoint, the right of people who favor gas-powered vehicles to buy and drive them.

    First of all, human activity has not altered planetary climate, and human activity cannot alter planetary climate. Or more precisely, will only be theoretically capable of altering planetary climate at some point maybe a century or so in our technological future, at which we will have invented and perfected planetary terraforming and we're all waterskiing on Mars and picnicking on Pluto.

    ∴ any and all government edicts and activist "demonstrations" relating to "stopping climate change" and "saving the planet" must be recognized - and more importantly, exposed - as threadbare political activism, not science. Vestigial, recidivistic Marxist political activism, specifically.

    I remember the '60 and '70s, when Los Angeles was nicknamed "smell-A," and "LA Smog" was a virtual redundancy-in-terms. This is of course anecdotal, but I'm coming up on my 22nd year in Los Angeles, and from my arrival on my birthday in the summer of Y2K up through today, I have yet to smell the faintest whiff of smog in LA. It's simply gone. Vamoos.

    The point being, we have a massive amount of improvement to pat ourselves on the back over vis-à-vis pollution from cars. Shorn of extraneous political motives (see another post I did about the morph within the Marxist propaganda machine of "Capitalism produces too little" to "Capitalism produces too much,") there is no rational justification for attacking gas-powered cars as a mode of personal transportation. There is no longer any appreciable - i.e., hazardous - degradation of air quality that can be laid on gas-powered transportation. The "perfection" standard that these eco-fascists are demanding is as nebulous and invalid as is any such otherworldly standard, and we can be certain that if they are allowed to force us to all-electric vehicles (with their all-important dependence on the State-controlled power grid to charge them,) once that step is behind them they will blithely declare electric vehicles too, to be a threat to Holy Mother Gaia and something which must be banned too.

    We cannot look at this gas-ban offensive without reference to the wider context of the UN's "Agenda 21." The goal is to remove the right to personal migration, via removing the necessary tools for personal migration: personal cars. The goal is to transform the human race into a largish herd of cattle, whose existence and actions occur only under the permission of the State. IOW, neo-Feudalism and neo-serfdom.

    A couple of decades ago I watched a debate between Pepperdine University economist George Reisman and a leftwing professor (I think from UC Irvine, where the debate took place,) in which Dr. Reisman identified something I've never heard anyone else even mention, much less champion: The right to internal migration. We have a right to travel. At will, from wherever to wherever we want, whenever we want. We do not have to petition government for permission to move across town or to visit a relative in another province, as with the brutal Chinese Communist Party or in Soviet Soviet Russia or in National Socialist Germany.

    When you boil away all of the pious pablum about "saving the planet" and "clean transportation" and, most comically, "zero emissions...ahh, except for yon power plant," it's the ultimate destruction of the right to personal, at-will travel that is the goal of these monsters.

    But try to find one, just one, politician who's willing to make this point. The whole lid needs to be ripped off of this charade. The world is drowning in stupidity for the silence of the people who should be doing that emperor-nudity pointing-kid thing.

    Personally, l look forward to a time when the attempted confiscation of our right to travel is treated in the same way as horse-theft was treated in the 19th century Old West: As a capital crime.
    .
    Reply | Mark as read | Best of... | Permalink  
    • Posted by $ 6 months, 2 weeks ago
      Right you are and we have all discussed much of this in the past.
      Here is the BIG PICTURE Conumdrum...soon the end of this 12 thousand year cycle of civilization will come to a nasty end...precious little will survive, the only electricity to be had will likely be made with oil coal and gas IF, and only if we can safely squirl away the means to procure and produce it and likely, the only way to do that will be with...gas, oil, deseil or natural gas vehicles; in short, the internal combustion engine....unless ye shall wield pick, shovel and peddle powered wheels and gears made out of who knows what ever is left to use from a desolated landscape.
      Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
  • Posted by mhubb 6 months, 2 weeks ago
    the basic problem with electric is that it takes WAY more energy to charge the batteries that you get back

    in testing at home, with deep cycle lead acid batteries i get about 50% back of what it took to charge them
    Reply | Mark as read | Best of... | Permalink  
    • Posted by $ Thoritsu 6 months, 2 weeks ago
      LiIon batteries are ~95% efficient charge/discharge. PbA are much better than 50% too. Your test setup is flawed or the system has an issue.

      Electric vehicles are about twice as fuel efficient as ICE cars.

      I am not a climate alarmist, but we need correct arguments, not technical fiction.
      Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
      • Posted by freedomforall 6 months, 2 weeks ago
        But, as they are, electric vehicles are a tool of the state to control us because they do not have the wide capabilities of internal combustion. As usual, life is all about acceptable compromise.
        My freedom is not part of any compromise.
        I can't trust the state. It is far too powerful and corrupt.
        So, if the state wants me to favor electric vehicles, I am immediately suspicious.
        Let the Germans and Aussies wreck their energy delivery system, since they trust their corrupt governments.
        Give me liberty and give the corrupeteers death.
        Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
        • Posted by $ DriveTrain 6 months, 2 weeks ago
          ffa, I've been thinking about that "control" issue in the context of cars ever since it became clear that these government goons were seriously thinking about forcing us into electric vehicles.

          There is a significant difference between the two kinds of cars beyond their power method: Dependence. A gas-powered vehicle can be fueled at any independent gas vendor, which vendor in turn is supplied by a wide array of petroleum companies, all of the private firms, not government agencies. Or even from one's own bulk fuel tank, if you have one.

          An electric car has to be charged, with said charge dependent on whatever local power grid is available. Unless I'm way, way behind the curve, every power company in the country is either a government-run entity or a government-controlled local monopoly.

          Force people to give up gas-powered cars for electric cars, and you have forced people to depend on a government-controlled entity for their personal transportation. I think that's the overarching goal of this, not "stopping climate change" or "stopping plate tectonics" or whatever windmills these charlatans are tilting at at the moment.

          Yes, arguably a gas-powered car is as dependent on a supplier as an electric car, but barring the sudden emergence of as vast an array of private power companies (which would run up against the same "redundant infrastructure" argument that's used to justify cable monopolies and government-"owned" roadways,) a shift to electric vehicles inescapably means a shift to de facto dependence on government for transportation.

          Any resident of Los Angeles can tell you about the perennial exhortations from the State power monopoly to "conserve usage between x hour and x hour today." That's now. Extrapolate to a future in which the vast majority of people are having to plug their cars in for a charge, tapping into that same power grid that's already straining. IOW, a shift from gas power to electric power means an open door to government rationing - read: control - of our right to travel at will. All of it indirectly of course. The better to conceal the iron fist of force.
          .
          Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
        • Posted by $ Thoritsu 6 months, 2 weeks ago
          I agree, if you point is government subsidies, etc. However, an EV supports all my needs. I haven’t driven >200 miles is five years, and if I need to, I’ll rent a car. I’d love not to have to do oil changes etc. and the acceleration is fantastic. If I bought a car today, I’d seriously consider a Mustang MachE or Lightning.
          Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
      • Posted by $ 6 months, 2 weeks ago
        Laughing, until your stuck on the highway during a winter storm and need HEAT!
        Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
        • Posted by $ Thoritsu 6 months, 2 weeks ago
          I’ll never need heat. I grew up in FL, born in Cocoa. My father was too cheap to run the AC, and my high school didn’t have AC. I’ve stored all the heat I’ll ever need.

          I have a video of me snow blowing after soccer, wearing shorts and crocs!
          Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
          • Posted by mccannon01 6 months, 2 weeks ago
            "...snow blowing after soccer, wearing shorts and crocs!" Ha, you're a "cool" dude, Thor, but I know what you mean. The other day it was 8degF and I was too lazy to throw on a coat and hat and boots so I went out in a T-shirt and sneakers and shoveled off my deck - weird, but I did slip on a pair of gloves because I hate that metal shovel handle on my hands when it's that cold. It only took about 10 or 15 minutes to do what I needed - grabbed an armload of wood for the fireplace when I got done.
            Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
            • Posted by $ Thoritsu 6 months, 2 weeks ago
              Yep, my hands are the only thing that gets cold, particularly when in snow directly after a bit.

              You can always put on more clothes, but you can only take off so many before people start complaining!
              Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
              • Posted by freedomforall 6 months, 2 weeks ago
                That's what the window fans were for. My childhood bedroom had one that drew in cool(er) air all night through the entire house.
                That droning sound put me to sleep every summer night.
                Our school (in a SE small town) had no a/c either, Thor, but the coal furnace worked well in winter.
                I can take a lot of heat (if I have adequate water and a shady spot) but you can have my share of the winter, guys.
                Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
    • Posted by $ 6 months, 2 weeks ago
      Yes, there is a drain in fuel efficency not just providing high amounts of electricity for spark, computers, fans, lights etc but also, power steering, breaks, turbos etc even though you can mitigate some of the latter with the size of drive to drive belts etc....Large main drives wheels turning smaller accessory drive wheels...still not perfect though.
      But using less fuel to do all these things is a Good Thing!
      Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
  • Posted by $ Markus_Katabri 6 months, 2 weeks ago
    My father’s 1979 Pontiac Sunbird got 49mpg highway. Not kidding. We used to calculate it ourselves. The insanely simple truth is. The less fuel you burn, the less pollution. Period. Full Stop.
    All these fuel efficiency robbing emissions measures they’ve put on engines have actually made the problem worse. My father, who was an automotive engineer (you use one of his patented ideas everytime you shift out of park) was convinced the EPA was actually trying to cut fuel efficiency in vehicles in the 1990s because cars had gotten pretty darn efficient. Why....BIG OIL. Why not?
    And in the end it has nothing to do with oil. It’s about control. The Rockefeller’s have divested themselves of fossil fuels not because of some moralistic crusade. But to move on and monopolize the next thing that will make them rich at the expense of others. Crony Capitalism is forever.
    Reply | Mark as read | Best of... | Permalink  
  • Posted by $ Thoritsu 6 months, 2 weeks ago
    The problem with lean mixture is not power or efficiency, but NOx and preignition. Plasma can not solve this.

    I'm not buying this story. You want a slower burning fuel-air mixture to increase power, and enable higher compression ratios, which are fundamental to efficiency. Higher octane gas is specifically slower burning.

    https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/g...

    You all know I'm not a climate alarmist or a misled CO2 Nazi, but we need to be technically correct in our arguments.

    Separately, I love ICE cars. I've rebuilt dozens of engines, and became a mechanical engineer partly because of this. Connecting shade-tree knowledge to physics was one of the highlights of my educational process.
    Reply | Mark as read | Best of... | Permalink  
    • Posted by $ blarman 6 months, 2 weeks ago
      Great point about the high-octane fuel. This is just one more example of government meddling by forcing the introduction of low-quality fuel mixtures (basically ANYTHING with ethanol in it) which degrade performance, damage the engine, and distort the market.
      Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
      • Posted by $ Thoritsu 6 months, 2 weeks ago
        Well, ethanol is a corrosion problem, but it increases octane rating, not decreases. The other problem is how stupid and wasteful ethanol from corn oil is. It is just a farm subsidy.

        If we have to support a farm subsidy (for stupid political reasons), use the corn oil for diesel. This works effectively and efficiently.
        Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
        • Posted by $ blarman 6 months, 2 weeks ago
          Ethanol burns at a different (lower) temperature than standard gasoline, creating inefficiencies in combustion. This creates inefficient combustion. I'm not sure how the octane rating is increased when there is poorer combustion. I know I sure can't use that crap in my lawnmower or trimmer without it causing problems...
          Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
          • Posted by $ Thoritsu 6 months, 2 weeks ago
            It is not the temperature. It is the fuel air mixture. The stochimetric ratio for gas with ethanol is different than just gas. The problem is your mower's carburetor doesn't know. Ethanol as a fuel can take massive compression ratios and make huge power (relative to gasoline) with higher thermodynamic efficiency.
            Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
            • Posted by Russpilot 6 months ago
              TO maintain the octane that I need in my high compression supercharged Audi, I have to mix around 3.75 gals of Ethanol to a tank topped off with about 11 gal of 93. The power boost is very noticeable and I have never had any problems with inefficient combustion. To be sure, it doesn't burn as slowly as the 93, there is a measured drop in MPG. But I drive my car for smiles per gallon, not miles.
              Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
              • Posted by $ Thoritsu 6 months ago
                Definitely smiles, not miles! I didn't become an engineer to buy shit cars and whine about gas costs.
                No more cars with lug bolts for me though. The rest will have studs and lug nuts. Getting my Lotus 7 back on the road in the spring! Needed a new computer (totally new aftermarket). It has a 2.0 Zetec with supercharger and weighs 1,110 lbs.
                Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
  • Posted by Owlsrayne 6 months ago
    I remember reading a similar article years ago in one of the automotive magazines. But now with pressure from the Biden puppeteers the major automotive companies are folding like a house of cards in terminating the ICE. These politicians and swamp rats that run the government are illiterate in automotive battery technology. they could be driving electric cars then find out that the battery pack needs to be replaced and the warranty only covers part of the replacement cost of $15-20K refurbished unit from Tesla, or from the entire cost from GM, Ford, and foreign manufacturers such as Nissan. The current mileage for most battery packs is 300+ miles per charge whereas an ICE vehicle is 400+.
    I went to an alternative energy show a number of years ago where there was one young fellow who had a hydrogen-powered Toyota pickup truck. He did his own conversion and had two fiberglass tanks in the bed of the truck for hydrogen storage which got filled every two weeks at the Palo-Verde Nuclear Power plant that has a hydrogen depot. If those idiots in Washington DC can get their marshmallow brains working, there are other viable technologies that can work in existing ICE vehicles.
    Reply | Mark as read | Best of... | Permalink  

FORMATTING HELP

  • Comment hidden. Undo