Test results show useful efficiency gains from plasma ignition

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According to US company Transient Plasma Systems, new research undertaken by specialist test and development provider FEV has confirmed that its plasma ignition system can significantly improve ICE efficiency. “Based on our testing, TPS ignition technology offers potential significant benefits toward improving combustion, engine efficiency and performance,” said Michael Franke, SVP of engine and hybrid powertrain systems, FEV.

FEV evaluated the performance of the TPS nanosecond pulsed power ignition system on a current Toyota 2.5-liter, direct and port fueled injection, inline four-cylinder gasoline engine commonly used in the Camry line of vehicles. The “Dynamic Force Engine” achieves one of the world’s best thermal efficiencies of 40% in gasoline-powered vehicles according to Toyota.

The engine was tested at FEV North America and results indicate improvements over the stock ignition system. Data was collected with the stock ignition system with a representative ignition strategy, followed by comparison to a drop-in replacement with the TPS nanosecond pulsed power ignition system (coil and plug). Results indicated a brake-specific fuel consumption (BSFC) benefit of up to 6% with minor calibration changes, which include a multi-pulse ignition strategy, increased external EGR and optimized spark timing. With the TPS ignition system, there was no degradation of combustion with increased EGR.

Finally, the TPS Ignition System allowed for stable operation beyond an air fuel ratio of 30 (λ>2), with the potential to enable ultra-lean burn strategies such as the one found in the Mazda Skyactiv-X.

The combustion strategies enabled by the TPS Ignition System could result in fuel economy gains greater than 20% across a drive cycle, as illustrated by simulation results produced in a 2020 report by Sandia National Labs to US DOE.

“Vehicles with internal combustion engine technology will continue to exist along with electric vehicles for decades. It is imperative that the transportation world continues to improve the combustion engine technology,” said Jim Demetriades, chairman of Transient Plasma Systems and CEO of Kairos Ventures, the Los Angeles venture capital firm funding TPS. “These impressive test results on one of the world’s most efficient engines confirms our faith in TPS technology as a groundbreaking approach to reducing emissions from combustion engines and improving the environment.”

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently he is responsible for content across UKI Media & Events' portfolio of websites while also writing for the company's print titles.

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