Pulstar Spark Plugs

Improvement in Spark-Ignition Engine Fuel Consumption and Cyclic Variability with Pulsed Energy Spark Plug

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SAE International (Society of Automotive Engineers) is a global professional association and standards organization for engineering professionals in various industries. SAE Papers are written and peer-reviewed by experts in the automotive, aerospace, and commercial vehicle industries. These papers are published in SAE industry specific journals aimed to serve the needs of academic and industry authors, researchers, and readers in a medium tailored for the discovery, integration, and application of research. In addition to being identified as some of the best published work at SAE International, these papers advance self-propelled vehicle and system knowledge in a neutral forum for the benefit of society.

Paper Number: 2012-01-1151
Published: April 2012
Authors & Affiliations:
Timothy J. Jacobs
Texas A&M University

Louis J. Camilli, Joseph E. Gonnella
Enerpulse, Inc.

A key element to achieving vehicle emission certification for most light-duty vehicles using spark-ignition engine technology is prompt catalyst warming. Emission mitigation largely does not occur while the catalyst is below its “light-off temperature”, which takes a certain time to achieve when the engine starts from a cold condition. If the catalyst takes too long to light-off, the vehicle could fail its emission certification; it is necessary to minimize the catalyst warm up period to mitigate emissions as quickly as possible. This study examined how pulsed energy spark plugs using an embedded capacitor directly to the center electrode, to produce a 5MW electrical discharge that conditions the fuel charge at the molecular level during the spark event. This discharge forms a plasma field with very high ultraviolet photon energy around the spark gap. The plasma field extends into the combustion chamber and sensitizes a large portion of the fuel air mixture, thus greatly enhancing combustion during cold start. This allows a vehicle to reach the light-off temperature level more quickly while reducing unburned hydrocarbon emissions.