So you think you know all about spark plugs? Think again! This great list of information was developed by AC Delco. If you have any questions about spark plugs or issues with your vehicle, please give us a call!
1. Early adopter – The use of a spark device to ignite a fuel-air mixture was first demonstrated way back in 1777 by Italian physicist Alessandro Volta, who also advanced the study of electrical capacitance. The scientific world was suitably impressed and dubbed the unit of electrical potential after him: volt. He also invented the conventional storage battery. Smart guy.
2. A big jolt – A minimum of 20,000 volts is required for most spark plugs in an automotive internal-combustion engine, but modern engines’ ignition systems can generate 40,000 volts or more.
3. Hot stuff – Within the first 2 nanoseconds of its arc, the spark reaches 100,000 degrees F – about 10 times hotter than the surface of the sun.
4. Out of this world – Iridium is used in many plugs to increase durability. A member of the platinum group of metals, iridium is one of the densest chemical elements and is very heat resistant. Because of its abundance in the earth’s crust, its existence is largely attributed to meteorite impacts millions of years ago.
5. Wood you believe it? – The ceramic material used in the spark plug insulator – the white body that wraps around the central terminal – is composed mostly of an aluminum oxide material designed to withstand the heat and pressure generated by the voltage that passes through the plug. That wasn’t always the case, however. Early spark plug designs used porcelain, mica (a silicate mineral), glass and even – we are not making this up – wood.