Posts like a Supercharger
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Alberta, Canada
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Here'* my little rant from GM-Trucks.com:
As with many products these days, the advertising is spectacular but the science is pretty shaky. The automotive industry is rife with brilliantly marketed crap.
Their biggest argument is that their plugs produce more wattage than conventional plugs. They say as high as one million watts, compared to around 50 watts for conventional spark plugs. This is where you enter a grey area with "proving" the science. Remember, Watts = Volts X Amps. The voltage we will assume is the same, because the vehicle ignition coil is only capable of a certain voltage. The amperage, however, is dependent on resistance of the secondary circuit. The resistance comes from the plug wires, the resistor in the plug, but mostly, the plug gap, which is in sense an infinite resistance. Remember that "grey area" in the science that I mentioned? Here it is. While any gap is an infinite resistance, we all know that when a certain amount of voltage is applied to that gap, it can be ionized, or "bridged". This is how we get our spark. The smaller the gap, the lower the voltage required to ionize the gap. It makes sense that while any gap is technically an infinite resistance, it can be argued that a smaller gap has a lower "resistance" than a larger gap.
Back to the Watts formula. You'll notice that on their website, when you look up plugs for our truck, they specify a 0.045" gap. Our trucks call for 0.060", but they say to go no larger than 0.045". Obviously, a 45 thou gap has a much smaller "resistance" and required voltage than a 60 thou gap. Amperage = Voltage/Resistance, so with voltage being the same (remember, the coil only produces so much) amperage in the circuit goes way up with a lower resistance. Which in turn means MUCH higher wattage.
Basically, what I'm getting to is that the radical increase in wattage isn't due to any remarkable new technology, but simply due to a smaller plug gap, something you could achieve without spending a penny.
But let me shoot this down a little more. Do you want higher wattage? The answer is no. The only important number when it comes to secondary ignitions is voltage. The amperage in a secondary system is minuscule (less than one amp). A certain amount of voltage is required to ionize the gap, and the rest of the voltage available is used to keep the spark going across the gap. For example, if your coil produces a maximum of 40,000 volts, and the required voltage to ionize the gap is 20,000 volts, the other 20,000 volts is used to keep amperage flowing across the plug for 1-2 milliseconds. And this is the very most important number in ignition This "burn time", as it is called, is required to completely burn the fuel and air mixture as it swirls in the combustion chamber. This is why cars run bad when the plugs wear. More of the coil'* voltage is used to ionize the increasingly larger gap, and less is left to keep the spark going for the required burn time. We call this "running out of spark".
Herein lies another major flaw in the "science" of pulse plugs. They claim that there is no burn time with their plugs; that the air/fuel mixture is instantaneously ignited due to the "sheer power" of their spark. More crap. Not only is this not possible, but remember, only the amount of voltage required to ionize the gap will be used. No more, no less. Even if this would actually be beneficial, their spark can't possibly be any more "powerful."
I'll bet my next paycheck that the only reason anybody is seeing gains with these is because they are replacing old, worn out spark plugs. New conventional plugs would yield the same results.
Ah, the beauty of marketing. Clever, isn't it?
EDIT: Thought I should add that three members of GM-Trucks.com have tried the Pulse Plugs now. One noticed an improvement in fuel economy, but he replaced old Bosch plugs, and as I told him, any other plug would have made an improvement. Another member noticed no difference and the last member has a bad misfire that forced him to reinstall the old plugs.