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Plasma Ignition Systems?

General engine tech -- Drag Racing to Circle Track

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#84Dave
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Plasma Ignition Systems?

Post by #84Dave » Mon Jun 04, 2012 3:58 pm

Any initial/further testing accomplished with the 3-4 commercial Subject systems currently available to we racer's? Results? Any particular 'best' spark plug to use with the plasma spark? I went to the Blue Phoenix Web site & clicked on a 3+ minute video of a dyno test of that system on a David Vizard 500+-inch BBC. With/without the plasma engaged. I was a bit surprised in a couple of areas. The torque output essentially didn't change. That was a surprise to me. The HP was about +10 better with the plasma. And finally......... as best I could read the numbers, the BSFC numbers appeared to be slightly WORSE with the plasma versus no plasma. I'm not the world expert, but that also was a surprise. And the video didn't indicate how much 'tuning', if any, was accomplished between plasma on/off. Bottom line? I'm not completely 'sold' on the Plasma systems @ this point. -Dave-

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Re: Plasma Ignition Systems?

Post by RAS » Mon Jun 04, 2012 8:55 pm

I would think if this plasma ignition held promise the industry would be all over it. IMO, timing is most critical when it comes to ignition systems.

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Re: Plasma Ignition Systems?

Post by Bazman » Mon Jun 04, 2012 9:45 pm

That engine had been maxed out before adding Plasma. The 10hp added was after the last hp that David Vizard could extract out of that combo had been obtained. More-over, there was no mention that they started a long run of dyno pulls with the Plasma to see where it wanted more or less fuel/more or less timing - they simply ran the engine on the existing tune with no change except ignition system.

In that scenario, IMHO, another 10hp is significant.

Who knows what more might be on the table if the engine was retuned to match the change in spark. Just because the existing tune was best with the old ignition does not follow that plasma wants the same.

I'd be keen to see how much leaner that engine could run safely than conventional ignition would allow. I'd also wager that racers using it now and finding an advantage are unlikely to be first to sound the trumpet.

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Re: Plasma Ignition Systems?

Post by MadBill » Mon Jun 04, 2012 11:05 pm

The 4-5 HP gain from that SBF Plasma Booster test I mentioned in another thread was actually a loss when I removed it for our last pull after a number of tests with it. The preceding run had 2°more timing which cost 5 HP, so the Okada unit gained power on an over-advanced tune up. I'd call it a worst case scenario for finding gains from the unit.
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Re: Plasma Ignition Systems?

Post by turbotrana » Wed Jun 06, 2012 12:24 pm

I bought the Aquapulser Plasma Ignition system for $600 Aussie. It didnt work for me. I didn't buy it for power increases but more for fuel economy increases. I have a programable engine management system so I lean or richen the fuel as freely as I wanted.

I would lean off the engine till it just started misfiring and turned the plasma spark on and off to try and see if it made a difference but it did nothing. Idle on or off no difference regardless of any ignition advance or fuel changes.

The spark it produces is impressive. But my thinking is along the lines that if the plasma piggy backs the original spark the engine produces, the piggy backed spark is too late to be of any benefit at low engine speeds.

Maybe at much higher engine speeds and loads the spark lag as I call it would become less then could provide a little benefit, but definately no benefit from my low RPM testing.

I do believe a bigger spark is better to a point then there comes a point of massive diminishing returns. But this plasma ignition disappointed me big time. I didn't expect much from it, just to be able to run a little leaner, but didnt expect nothing from my experimentation.

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Re: Plasma Ignition Systems?

Post by Bazman » Wed Jun 06, 2012 8:31 pm

turbotrana wrote:I bought the Aquapulser Plasma Ignition system for $600 Aussie. It didnt work for me. I didn't buy it for power increases but more for fuel economy increases. I have a programable engine management system so I lean or richen the fuel as freely as I wanted.

I would lean off the engine till it just started misfiring and turned the plasma spark on and off to try and see if it made a difference but it did nothing. Idle on or off no difference regardless of any ignition advance or fuel changes.

The spark it produces is impressive. But my thinking is along the lines that if the plasma piggy backs the original spark the engine produces, the piggy backed spark is too late to be of any benefit at low engine speeds.

Maybe at much higher engine speeds and loads the spark lag as I call it would become less then could provide a little benefit, but definately no benefit from my low RPM testing.

I do believe a bigger spark is better to a point then there comes a point of massive diminishing returns. But this plasma ignition disappointed me big time. I didn't expect much from it, just to be able to run a little leaner, but didnt expect nothing from my experimentation.
That is very valuable information. Thank you for sharing that as it has saved me from wasting money to do the same thing you just tried.

For fun I am chasing 30mpg at cruise to see if it can be done out of my turbo LS V8 sedan and had hoped plasma ignition would get me lean enough to get there. I was unaware of a pre-spark before plasma lit up let alone a delay between the normal spark and the plasma.

Perhaps the only way this new technology will work effectively for lean burn would be if it can initiate plasma either without a pre-spark lighting the fire first or within nano seconds. In the end, does a fire care what lit it?

Still of interest is the internet rumor that plasma explodes water vapor under combustion temp and pressure... I'm skeptical but already have water/meth and was keen to see if there was any power gain from plasma over normal coil over plug ignition during water/meth injection.

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Re: Plasma Ignition Systems?

Post by MadBill » Wed Jun 06, 2012 8:49 pm

I suspect that most such systems are at their best when the combustion process is on the ragged side due to poor atomization, lean mixtures, charge contamination, bad chamber design, etc. (although even the best engines have a surprising number of misfires and 'fizzles'). All of these can be mitigated by bigger and/or additional sparks; "Better late than never!" Conversely, an engine receiving a hot well-timed spark to a properly prepared mixture well within the combustibility range and burning in a compact well-shaped chamber probably has little or nothing to gain...
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Re: Plasma Ignition Systems?

Post by turbotrana » Thu Jun 07, 2012 10:39 am

I have played around quite a bit with improving fuel economy. There is nothing magic that will get you there.

I found a big difference from going from the Bosch EV1 injector to the EV6 multi hole. So atomisation is very important. A EV14 multi hole injector, the smallest size possible helps.

Leaning out the fuel map everywhere (you can run alot leaner than you think in the normal driving parts of the fuel map) and advancing as much as you can in the same parts of the map. In my case around 45degrees. But then it is really not good for NOx side of things.

A strong ignition system is important. I have run coils at 18-20volts and seen improvements to really work out that I did not have enough dwell programmed into the ECU to begin with. Once I increased dwell at 13volts it performed the same at 18volts. So you got to make sure you dont have a weak ignition system to start off with.

A good tuning software which allows you to log the air/fuel ratio for every grid of the fuel tuning maps helps you get a good tune. I used the EMS8860 which has this feature

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Re: Plasma Ignition Systems?

Post by raceman14 » Thu Jun 07, 2012 12:12 pm

When these folks are referring to plasma, is it not just the increased spark intensity.
I think we racers check into true capacitive discharge might be the better idea / system it has been tried a lot in the past but marketing has not been the best.
Not too hard to figure out, find a capacitor charge it up and then touch the leads together to discharge it...whammo.

Now all we have to do is figure out how to make it work for ignition systems. And yes there are systems out there, do they work??? Yes some of them do, but not super great at rpms above about 5000. Simple problem double the system and run it at 1/2 speed but that doubles the cost and makes it hard for folks to build.

When I treat stock plugs for my house & crate engines I use a process that helps the plug become more capacitive when it sparks.
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Re: Plasma Ignition Systems?

Post by rookie » Thu Jun 07, 2012 1:23 pm

This is from DV's FaceBook page...Finally we got to do the tests at Terry Walters shop in Roanoke. These were done on Terry's/my 525 BB Chevy. This is totally a street motor and runs 87 octane fuel and has a dynamite MSD crank trigger ignition system tweaked to the Nth degree to optimize it.
http://www.facebook.com/DavidVizardAuto

i'am sure he will be doing more testing and write ups on it as they also have one installed in their Malibu drag car.. but He told me they tried different tune ups on the 525 and it actually liked the original settings, was a little shocking to him as well.

One of the places it will be most noticeable will be heavy Boost or Nitrous engines where a standard system reaches its limits.

I would call Richard with Blue Phoenix and grill him, he is a pretty good guy.

EDIT; you could contact Terry, I think he may be a distributor for BP now, I think he was the most Skeptical out of everyone.
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Re: Plasma Ignition Systems?

Post by theyoungone » Wed Jul 11, 2012 1:36 pm

#84Dave wrote:Any initial/further testing accomplished with the 3-4 commercial Subject systems currently available to we racer's? Results? Any particular 'best' spark plug to use with the plasma spark? I went to the Blue Phoenix Web site & clicked on a 3+ minute video of a dyno test of that system on a David Vizard 500+-inch BBC. With/without the plasma engaged. I was a bit surprised in a couple of areas. The torque output essentially didn't change. That was a surprise to me. The HP was about +10 better with the plasma. And finally......... as best I could read the numbers, the BSFC numbers appeared to be slightly WORSE with the plasma versus no plasma. I'm not the world expert, but that also was a surprise. And the video didn't indicate how much 'tuning', if any, was accomplished between plasma on/off. Bottom line? I'm not completely 'sold' on the Plasma systems @ this point. -Dave-
I noticed the same thing. That was the main reason I didn't purchase a set to try out.

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Re: Plasma Ignition Systems?

Post by MadBill » Wed Jul 11, 2012 4:35 pm

'Worst case' for an alternative ignition system's results would be when tuned to perfection with the base system, then switched to the B.P. with no tuning. If further tweakng produced more gains, so much the better.

Also, anyone racing where fuel efficiency is not at a premium should happily give up B.S.F.C. for HP..
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Re: Plasma Ignition Systems?

Post by #84Dave » Wed Jul 11, 2012 5:24 pm

B.S.F.C. is an indicator of fuel burn EFFICIENCY. If you have a BSFC of .6 on your race engine, something is amiss & it's costing you TQ/HP! -Dave-

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Re: Plasma Ignition Systems?

Post by MadBill » Wed Jul 11, 2012 6:37 pm

True, .6 is/would be pretty terrible (I haven't seen the video), but if for some unknown reason it cost say 5% HP to bring it down to .4, what would you do? I'd take the power now and search for efficiency later.
A TF engine would likely see a 90%+ reduction in B.S.F.C. if it was converted to NA gasoline but...
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Re: Plasma Ignition Systems?

Post by USMC_Spike » Fri Jul 13, 2012 2:54 am

raceman14 wrote:I think we racers check into true capacitive discharge might be the better idea / system it has been tried a lot in the past but marketing has not been the best. Not too hard to figure out, find a capacitor charge it up and then touch the leads together to discharge it...whammo.

Now all we have to do is figure out how to make it work for ignition systems. And yes there are systems out there, do they work??? Yes some of them do, but not super great at rpms above about 5000. Simple problem double the system and run it at 1/2 speed but that doubles the cost and makes it hard for folks to build.

When I treat stock plugs for my house & crate engines I use a process that helps the plug become more capacitive when it sparks.
Raceman14,
1. I would like to know how you process your plugs tomake them more capacitive.

2. It might be a good time to relook into this, with the popularity of switching power supplies. They require
better capacitors which are able to withstand the ultra high switching diode speeds. It is not a simple as you
would think it is (capacitors).

Capacitor makers like everyone else has suffered from being outsouced to China.
You know that TV or Computer monitor or hard drive that quit just like that one day?

Yep, the dirty little secret is the "capacitor-plague" from China. I don't think Dell computers has recoved
from their disaster of using chinese caps in computers and monitors that failed within three, two, one year
and sometimes even less.

Anyone know who is researching ignition systems?

Didn't Mr. Gasket Co. buy out all the little guys that were around?

Food for thought if nothing else.
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