What is a plasma spark and how does it differ from a standard ignition spark?

By definition all sparks comprise of an ionized channel called plasma. However the plasma channel generated by a conventional ignition coil and CDI driven coils, even high performance modules such as MSD, is extremely low in net energy content, primarily due to losses owing to the high resistance of the thin wires of the secondary side of the ignition coil. A standard ignition spark is characterized by high voltage with peak current not exceeding 200 hundred milliamps.

A plasma spark as referred to on the internet or by ignition engineers means a high voltage ignition spark with a very large ignition kernel with peak currents exceeding 20 to 30 amps. The net energy output of a plasma spark is several 100s of times greater than a conventional spark.

A standard ignition spark is barely visible and generates little to no photonic energy. A plasma spark is characterized not only by a massive ignition kernel but with liberation of high energy photons as well. In addition, owing to the extremely short duration of the high current 'pulse' which breaks down a relatively large quantity of the surrounding gases, an audible shockwave is unleashed as the gases are 'cracked' which is the same physical phenomenon as a clap of lightning causing thunder.

Does the extremely bright light or photonic energy liberated by the plasma spark actually combust fuel or is it wasted energy as opposed to a standard spark generated by an MSD box?

Yes! Fuel can be ignited using photons alone! As early as the 70s the gas turbine laboratory at MIT managed to run a gas turbine engine by bombarding it with photons alone, without any direct form of ignition. Since that time many patents have been filed to ignite gas turbines using photons alone.

If thats not convincing, virtually all current Jet turbine ignition systems use a high energy capacitive discharge based plasma ignition system that liberates high energy photons similar to the SparkAmp ignition module. Here is a demonstration video of a Jet Turbine Ignition module.

Igniting fuel in a turbine is much more difficult than igniting fuel inside a closed Internal Combustion Engine and once steady state is reached ignition sparks are no longer required. However when ignition is required in a Jet turbine regardless of altitude or cruising speed, the spark has to be powerful and must liberate enough energy to ignite a fuel mix that is constantly being mixed with air and ejected out of the turbine in the shortest possible time. The combustion chamber in a jet engine is much larger than an internal combustion engine and a hot spark alone will not do. The spark has to be able to supply both heat and light, but mostly enough photonic energy to ignite fuel dispersed through out the combustion chamber. This is the reason why Jet ignition systems do not use ignition coils but use a high voltage capacitor rated in the kilovolts to ignite fuel. If multiple sparks alone were enough to start a Jet turbine, then an ignition company such as MSD would be a much bigger corporation selling a product line of ignition systems for Jet engines.

What is Pulsed Direct Current Ignition and How does the SparkAmp work?

The SparkAmp is a Pulsed Direct Current Ignition module that discharges a pulse of high amplititude DC current directly across the spark plug every time the ignition coil discharges a conventional low energy, high voltage spark across the spark plug or gap. The peak currents can reach 100's of amps depending on the energy stored by the module compared to the maximum 200 milliamps of a conventional spark produced by even the highest end ignition modules. The DC pulse enlarges the ignition kernel almost a 100 times larger than the conventional weak spark from a standard ignition coil and releases a large amount of photonic energy in the process.

Is Pulsed Direct Current Ignition an established technology or a new technology?

Pulsed Direct Current Ignition is not a new technology. Search youtube for plasma spark or plasma ignition etc and you will find a plethora of links to DIY circuits using Microwave oven transformers etc. Pulsed Direct Current Ignition itself is more than 3 decades old. There are many versions of this technology such as Adrenaline Research's Smartfire which was acquired by Motorola and is now part of Continental, the University of Texas' Railplug system, Princeton University's Traveling spark igniter etc

If high energy plasma ignition (Pulsed Direct Current Ignition) really works and its effects are cleaner combustion, higher efficiency, power and torque are there are any patents by the major automakers?

Yes Plasma ignition or pulsed Direct Current Ignition technology works and many patents have been filed over the years by various automakers, universities and even NASA with claims of increased horsepower, fuel efficiency and lowered emissions. Here are a few by NASA, MIT, Nissan Motor Company, Toyota, Motorola, another by Nissan Motor Company. Virtually all of these are system patents that incorporate everything from the ignition coil electronics to the spark plugs.

If the patents for high energy plasma ignition have been around for that long, why aren't there devices on the market for the average Joe consumer?

High Energy Plasma Ignition is no fly by night technology as evidenced by the numerous method and system patents that have been filed spanning over three decades. However, the high costs associated with implementing a patented system including the electronics, high voltage components, custom cabling and spark igniters is the principal reason why plasma ignition modules or devices are not available on the market. Competition is extremely limited in Aftermarket ignition segment as established manufacturers such as MSD, Granatelli Motor Sports etc are largely interested in maximizing their profit margins with their existing product line rather than focus on innovation and constantly bring out new ignition technologies onto the market. Research and innovation costs are expensive and the less these large corporations spend on research, the more they can distribute as earnings to their shareholders with their exisiting product line. The public has no choice as they buy what they think is top of the line technology. The electric car has been around since the days of Thomas Edison. Yet an affordable electric car the EV 1 for the middle class was scrapped by the bankrupt and now bailed out General Motors Corporation. The new EV 1 is now the Tesla Roadster a high end luxury car out of reach of the average consumer.

Are there similar ignition technologies compared to the SparkAmp ignition module, available on the market?

No. Apart from the SparkAmp there are no plasma spark ignition modules available on the market as of today.

Is it really true that the SparkAmp module generates the largest ignition kernel available on the market?

Yes, the SparkAmp ignition module generates the largest spark and ignition kernel available on the market today. If you can find another comparable product that generates an ignition kernel as large as the SparkAmp ignition module we will ship you a unit for free.

Does plasma ignition significantly reduce emissions?

Yes. The high energy photonic energy of the plasma spark significantly reduces CO, NO and NOx emissions.

If the plasma spark ignition is so effective in increasing Horse Power has it been seriously considered by racing?

Yes plasma ignition has been seriously considered by Formula one ignition racing. However our research indicates that there are currently no racing teams in formula one that incorporates a plasma ignition system as Adrenaline research patent was bought out by Motorola before a market ready product could be developed. Adrenaline Research was later acquired by (Woodward Governor Company Nasdaq:WGOV). Woodward is the world's largest independent designer and manufacturer of energy control solutions for aircraft and industrial engines, turbines and electrical power systems.

How much mileage can I expect to gain using the SparkAmp Plasma ignition module.

Mileage gains can vary from a nominal 8% to a whopping 60% depending on the degree of optimization. The duration of the plasma spark is short and therefore timing can be advance toward TDC to get the maximum power out of your engine using plasma ignition. Significant mileage gains can be achieved if the SparkAmp module is used in conjunction with lean burn engines that are able to lean out the fuel using custom EFIE or equivalent on the free way. If you have a lean burn engine or can optimize your engine for lean burn and you drive long distances, the SparkAmp ignition module is for you! Custom EFIE circuits that are available online must be used as stock ECUs do not lean out fuel beyond the level set at the factory which is configured for the weak ignition spark.

Do I have to use non resistor plugs for high energy plasma ignition?

Yes, the SparkAmp ignition module must be used with non resistor spark plugs in order to obtain a high energy plasma spark.

Do I need to use non resistor ignition cables?

Yes you will require low resistance copper core racing ignition cables to connect from the plasma output of the SparkAmp or the distributor brick to the non resistor spark plugs depending single or multi cylinder install. Virtually all ignition cables available in the market are resistive in nature. We have personally only tested with Accel's 4038 ignition cables and our plasma products are guaranteed to work with that.

Is RF/ EMI a significant issue and is it possible to shield EMI / RF when using non resistor cables?

RF / EMI has not proved to be a detrimental issue for cars with distributor based engines. Non resistor ignition cables can be shielded using braided sheathing. RF will not be an issue especially when used on older vehicles or engines that use non resistor plugs such as certain Mercedes models.

What is RF braided Sheathing?

RF braided sheathing comprises of woven tinned copper braid that provides a minimum of 95% shield coverage. The sheath wraps around the ignition cable must be grounded to the vehicle. RF sheathing is relatively cheap and can be purchased here.

What is the difference between the SparkAmp unit and MSD ignition?

The difference between the SparkAmp plasma spark and MSD ignition lies in basic combustion physics.

The air fuel mix inside the combustion chamber is ignited when an ionized plasma channel traces a path across the spark plug gap. The spark is the 'hottest' as it breaks across the air gap to the other electrode and the fuel is ignited ONLY during this initial break down phase which lasts less than 100 microseconds.

As soon as the spark reaches the ground electrode the subsequent tail end of the spark is of little to no use in the combustion process and is wasted energy. Once the fuel ignites the efficiency or net energy content of the burn is determined by how fast the flame front expands and how much of the fuel is fully combusted. Full combustion results in a greater amount of heat energy liberated which is then converted to mechanical work by the piston.

The rate at which flame front expands is determined by the amount of energy delivered in the first few microseconds as the gap breaks down. A stronger energetic pulse results in a much larger faster flame front while a weak spark results in a flame front that is lower and in some cases only partially ignited.

A weak spark from a conventional ignition coil will ignite the fuel however, the owing to the low energy content of the spark, the combustion is usually partial with increased emissions, lower power and increased fuel consumption. MSD was founded in 1970 with a simple solution of repeating the low energy spark multiple times to increase combustion efficiency using a CDI to drive the ignition coil. The working theory being that the more weak sparks there are the greater the likelihood it will burn all of the fuel. The multiple spark discharge technology became the name of the company MSD.

Multiple spark discharge not only increases plug wear it offers only a partial solution as all MSD boxes even the latest ones with ‘Digital’ technology generate multiple sparks only at 3000 RPM and below. Once the RPM increases above 3000, all MSD boxes digital or otherwise generate a single low current high voltage spark for every ignition cycle.

This is ironic as the MSD box is nothing more than a conventional CDI above 3000 RPM yet the brand has a near virtual monopoly when it comes to racing. As the engine speed increases above 3000RPM, complete combustion becomes near impossible as less fuel is combusted during each ignition cycle. This is one of the main reasons why power and torque significantly starts dropping at higher and higher RPMs.

High energy Pulsed Direct Current Ignition works the exact opposite of MSD. Instead of multiple weak sparks, the SparkAmp ignition module discharges a single high energy pulse of DC current across the spark gap along with the high voltage spark from the ignition coil. This secondary current source dramatically expands the size of the ignition kernel of the conventional spark from a standard ignition coil. The surge current exceeds 100 amps during the initial break down phase which is responsible for igniting the fuel. As the capacitor discharges all of its energy in less than a fraction of the second, it also emits high energy photons along with a shock wave which causes the flame front to expand much faster than a conventional spark induced flame front.

Unlike MSD (which is actually only MSD upto 3000 RPM), the SparkAmp ignition module generates a high energy plasma spark with an ignition kernel almost 100 times larger than a normal spark even at 16000+ RPM. This is the reason why dyno tests of the SparkAmp ignition module show consistent gains in horsepower and torque at higher RPMs, as more fuel is ignited consistently and reliably in a shorter amount of time.

Can the SparkAmp unit be used in conjunction with MSD?

Yes the SparkAmp module can be used with any MSD box in inline mode or bypass mode. The SparkAmp module generates a plasma spark for every spark generated by the MSD module.

If the SparkAmp ignition module is installed on a stock car with stock ignition will it perform better than MSD?

Yes the SparkAmp ignition module if installed will allow your stock ignition to perform better than with an MSD upgrade. Remember the MSD box is nothing more than a CDI box that discharges a single spark at RPMs higher than 3000. With the SparkAmp a powerful plasma spark is generated even at 16000+ RPM.

I have a street car with stock ignition and I want to use it for drag racing. Will the SparkAmp ignition module upgrade alone give me the edge I need.

Yes. The high energy plasma ignition upgrade will definitely give you an edge in any race. Further gains can be had if the stock plug gap can be increased to facilitate better energy transfer between the plasma spark and the air-fuel mixture. As of yet, there are no plasma ignition modules available on the market to the best of our knowledge used by any racing team in any category.

How old is Plasma ignition technology compared to MSD?

The SparkAmp beta build was released in April 2009. By comparison MSD is from the stone age. Both the technology and the company have been around since the 1970s. There are many clones of MSD such as Force Ignition and Okada projects.

SparkAmp ignition module is completely new from the ground up and uses all the latest in surface mount technology to give it a huge performance advantage having the smallest form factor (4.6 x 2.4 x 1.3 in) and lowest energy footprint (30 watts rms).

Virtually all the current aftermarket performance ignition products are over 20 years old. While they do work (generating multiple sparks upto 3000 RPM), think about it…-. How's that 20 year old computer doing for you? How about that 20 year old TV or Microwave? Technology has moved on and so has the engineering team at Aquapulser.com

How many SparkAmp units are required for a multi cylinder distributor based ignition system.

Typically only one unit is required for upto 8 cylinders. However for all symmetrical V8 and V6 engines we recommend two units one for each set of plugs on either bank of the engine block.

Can the SparkAmp unit be installed on a waste spark system?

Yes the SparkAmp Wastespark unit can be installed on a waste spark system.

How many SparkAmp units are required for a waste spark system?

A single SparkAmp X60 Wastespark unit is sufficient for most wastespark ignition systems.

Can I increase the plasma energy by adding more SparkAmp units?

Yes you can hook multiple SparkAmp units in parallel doubling the energy each time you add another unit and thus seeing even more benefits.

Can the SparkAmp unit be used with COP systems?

Yes, there are a select few COPs that we sell that are plasma ignition compatible.

Can the SparkAmp unit be used on a small engine such as a motor bike or outboard motor?

Yes. The SparkAmp unit can be used in inline mode for any single cylinder or V twin engine. You will require non resistor plugs and a copper core cable to connect from plasma output to the spark plug. Refer to the SparkAmp Manual

How many SparkAmp units do I need for a V twin engine?<

You only need one SparkAmp unit for a V twin engine. T

Has the SparkAmp unit been dyno tested?

Yes, you can watch the videos on the Aquapulser Channel on Youtube.