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Old 11-03-2016, 07:24 PM   #1
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New spark plugs? Is this legit?

What are your thoughts on these things? I am skeptical of something like this, but hey improvements do happen on existing technology, but I just am curious what you all think.

https://pulstar.com/


Thanks!

C
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Old 11-03-2016, 08:50 PM   #2
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I use them on my Veyron.
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Old 11-03-2016, 09:27 PM   #3
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On the face of it, it seems like an interesting idea. That said, I wonder what kind of impact it has on ignition timing. If the fuel is igniting more quickly, then it seems to me that it would be necessary to retard the timing a touch to prevent full combustion from taking place BTDC. If it does not affect ignition timing, then I have to wonder if the plasma plugs really are causing the fuel to burn more quickly.
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Old 11-03-2016, 10:08 PM   #4
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Glider, doesn't ignition happen before TDC anyway? That's what timing advance is isn't it? Old cars had vacuum advance and now it's electronic yeah? I think it's a totally valid concern relative to detonation, but I wonder if the computer would sense it and adjust the timing accordingly, in which case your point stands just with different logic. The computer will bring timing back into the normal spec negating any benefit of the plug burning faster. Which leaves only a more efficient burn as our only hope for performance increase? If they are valid though I'd like to give a set a try for sure!
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Old 11-04-2016, 06:44 AM   #5
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c7train--yes, I agree with you on a general, conceptual level, with a few caveats. All of my wrenching has been on the older, mechanical systems, so I claim no expertise with the computerized ignition systems.

That said, as I understand the world of pistons, the goal is to have full ignition right at TDC. This means a couple of things.

First, the spark plug has to fire BTDC because there is a time lag between the moment the plug fires and the moment that full ignition takes place. The key to full combustion right at TDC means setting the engine's timing--at idle--so that the coil fires the plug at precisely the right moment BTDC.

Two important notes on this:
1. Note: While what is described above is referenced as "timing", (I'm going to call timing at idle "static timing" for clarity), this is not the same thing as "timing advance".

2. Timing is set in degrees of rotation BTDC, not in terms of milliseconds BTDC. This is what gets us to timing advance.

The amount of time it takes for the fuel mixture to reach full combustion is basically fixed (for a specific fuel-air mixture and a specific ignition system). But--let's say that static timing (engine at idle speed) is set as 22 degrees BTDC. Now, as engine RPMs increase, the amount of time that elapses between 22 degrees BTDC and TDC decreases. That means that a static timing setting of 22 degrees BTDC that provided the perfect amount of time for fuel to reach full combustion at TDC while the engine was idling will not allow sufficient time for the fuel to reach full combustion at TDC when the engine is spinning at 3,000 RPM. The faster the engine spins, the more degrees of rotation are necessary in order to create the same time window for the fuel to reach full combustion.

This gets us to Timing Advance. Timing Advance is the process of shifting the moment the coil fires the plug to an earlier point of rotation--for example, shifting it from 22 degrees BTDC to 28 degrees BTDC--as the engine RPMs increase in order to create the same time window for the fuel mixture to ignite--with the result that full combustion occurs at TDC.

What is the point of all of this technicality?

Well, it all comes down to the same thing as what we've been talking about already. The plug fires BTDC in order to have full combustion at TDC. If the plasma plug shortens the time window between plug firing and full combustion, then it seems to me that it would be necessary to retard the timing just enough so that full combustion still takes place at TDC. In other words, if static timing is set at 22 degrees BTDC for engine idle, then perhaps with the plasma plug, static timing would need to shift to 15 degrees BTDC. If timing is normally advanced to 28 degrees BTDC at 3000 RPMs, then with the plasma plugs, perhaps that would need to be reduced to 24 degrees BTDC.

Perhaps, as you point out, the computer will automatically adjust the timing to match the plasma plugs' faster fuel burn. I was trained back in the days when we could use a matchbook cover to set the point gap on a VW engine, and I don't know enough about the computerized systems to know, one way or another, if this is the case.

But that's what I was wondering about with respect to the plasma plugs--how would use of those plugs affect timing, and how would that timing adjustment take place?
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Old 11-04-2016, 07:44 AM   #6
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I'm not quite getting the whole concept of a capacitor in a spark plug.......I'm guessing it's just putting more electrical energy into the fuel mix.......but that takes more time for a given voltage.....the time it takes to charge the capacitor.

The time it takes to charge a capacitor is called it's time constant; it would seem that this would also impact ignition timing.
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Old 11-04-2016, 09:19 AM   #7
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I capacitor on a spark plug is how the factory ignition already works! At least on the '97 and newer vans. I see potential on an older, conventional system, but the modern stuff already runs at 20,000 volts stock.

Here's one test vid of the pulsar plugs, but its still on an older ignition system, and notice howe small and narrow the gains are:

Finally, there's other good reasons to stay all stock. My brother upgraded his Expedition to Bosch +4 plugs. Short time later one plug burned through the center. Turned out the first generation couldn't handle the voltages of the Ford/Volvo ignition systems. I thought about upgrading my coils to something with higher voltage, and every review I could find complained about shorter coil life. And as-is, with the aggressive tune I'm running I already burn through platinum plugs in only 60,000 miles to I run iridium now to keep the 100k intervals. Point is.... aftermarket stuff is never tested as thoroughly as OEM, and the ignition system doesn't seem to have much tolerance for changing things up.
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Old 11-04-2016, 10:12 AM   #8
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Glider, yes that's exactly what I was asking and you explained it wonderfully! These plugs seem like a very complicated way to "reinvent the wheel" for not much gain. Maybe in conjunction with many other things we could see an increase in certain areas. However, they don't make a plug for our vans ahaha so I guess it doesn't matter. Alas, this is great conversation!
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