Spark plugs to be replaced with plasma bursts?

Now this is how you replace a spark plug.

An automotive supplier is developing a plasma generator that could appear in engines as soon as 2017, according to Automotive News.

Federal-Mogul designed the system, which sends a bolt of charged particles into a cylinder to ignite fuel instead of a simple spark.

The company says Advanced Corona Ignition System (ACIS) allows it to better control the size and duration of multiple arcs in this electrical field leading to improvements in engine power and emissions while lowering fuel economy buy as much as 10 percent.

“As you add more exhaust gas or reduce the amount of fuel, the mixture becomes very, very difficult to ignite. But you only have the same amount of time for that to happen. The multiple arcs from the ACIS plug overcome that," Kris Mixell, director of ACIS for Federal-Mogul told the newspaper.

Although the new plugs themselves have been designed to fit in the same type of holes as traditional spark plugs, the ACIS requires a dedicated computer and associated electronics, adding to the overall complexity of the engine, which will likely lead to higher upfront costs.

Nevertheless, Federal-Mogul says 10 automakers are currently looking at the system, and it expects it to be in production within four years.