Can We Run Without Spark Plugs?

In a normal internal combustion engine the spark plugs ignite the fuel and oil mixture causing a small explosion in the chamber to send the piston back to its starting position to repeat the process. This has been the basics of this engine since the beginning of the automobile and engines, giving us over a century to study this engine model which has given us the ability to pull more power and better fuel efficiency from the engine that fires off using the spark plugs, but what if we didn’t have spark plugs?

Without spark plugs in this system can we create the same explosion at the same or better rate and what will it do to the efficiency and operation of the engine? This question is more important than ever now that we have electric powered vehicles and even some that run on hydrogen, it’s time to make the gasoline or diesel powered engines as completely efficient as possible and one thought is to do this without spark plugs. The elements needed to create the explosion are still necessary in the engines and Hyundai and Delphi have come up with a solution that might be exactly what we need called the Gasoline Direct-Injection Compression Ignition (GDCI).

First of all, this engine does not require any spark plugs and it has been in the works for more than a decade with both GM and Honda showing cars that offered homogenous-charge compression-ignition engines that ran on gasoline. The change for this new GDCI is the stratified charge which is a richer mixture in the engine when firing. The confidence is so high in this process the 1.8-liter 180 horsepower four-cylinder engine will find it way into two test cars later in the year for the first phase of on road testing.

Let’s see how this works. Most of the engine parts look the same as normal, but the pistons look like they have soup bowls on the top of them. The injectors have to push fuel into the exact center of each of these bowls and uses heated air from the exhaust gas to gain a compression ratio of 14:8:1. With this ratio the engine fires in a highly efficient manner, creating the necessary explosion in the chamber to allow the piston to return and continue the process. There are actually two points when fuel is pushed into the chamber, making for a better process which allows the engine to be even more efficient.

This all makes for a diesel engine that has some serious improvements and advantages over the older models. the GDCI have very low emissions, especially NOx, giving us an engine that will be better for the environment than before. The overall improvement in efficiency is a ten to fifteen percent increase allowing for a vehicle with this engine to be much more efficient than previous models and ensuring the internal-combustion engine will continue to be used as the main propulsion system for many years to come.

Written by Rocco Penn

A tech blogger, social media analyst, and general promoter of all things positive in the world. "Bring it. I'm ready." Find me on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.