You can build a high-performance engine to suck in lots of air and fuel into the cylinders, but you need to make sure there’s plenty of spark to light that mixture to create horsepower. If your spark is weak, then the engine will struggle. That’s why having an ignition system that’s capable of creating multiple sparks when it fires is so important.
Every internal-combustion engine needs fuel, air, and spark to function, so it goes without saying that as you increase the performance of said engine, all of these items need to increase, as well. An ignition system that uses multiple sparks, discharges a series of sparks as the engine goes through its ignition fire cycle.
Russell Stephens from PerTronix provides more detail about a multiple spark ignition system.
“A multiple spark ignition ensures that the air/fuel mixture is ignited in the cylinder and, more importantly, that it is completely burned. In a high-performance application, cylinder pressures increase due to higher compression ratios, superchargers, turbochargers, or even the addition of nitrous. All of these factors make it more difficult for the ignition to ignite the air/fuel mixture. The multiple sparks provide repeated opportunities for the ignition to start and complete the combustion process.”
Having plenty of spark from your ignition is one thing, but that spark also needs to be high quality and it needs to have a long enough duration. An aftermarket ignition system is going to cover both of those bases and you always want to ensure the ignition you’re using matches the power output potential of your engine.
“Having a higher voltage and more powerful spark is very important…bigger is better here. The higher voltage allows the spark to jump the gap across the electrode on the spark plug, even with the high cylinder pressures. The higher energy of the spark is what burns the fuel completely. If you have a high-performance or racing engine, you want an ignition with multiple sparks, a long duration firing cycle, and of course, higher energy that will completely burn the fuel mixture in the cylinder to give you the highest power possible from your engine combination,” Stephens says.
Another thing you’ll want to keep in mind when looking at an ignition system that has multiple spark capability is how long it can produce spark. Ideally, you will want an ignition system that will produce spark all the way to the engine’s redline — this will ensure that all of the fuel in the cylinder is being used.
PerTronix has several different ignition solutions for high-performance applications, but its Digital HP Ignitions (PN 510 and 512) are great for engines that use a lot of fuel, have high cylinder pressures, big camshafts, and rev to high RPM levels.
“In addition to the multi-sparking technology, the power level of the Digital HP Ignition can be switched between 140 millijoules output or a whopping 187 millijoules, which should only be selected for short periods of full-throttle drag racing. This energy level is complemented with the multiple sparks that continue all the way through the RPM range. This design makes it the best ignition choice for high performance and street/strip cars,” Stephens says.
If you want to learn more about multi-spark ignitions, make sure you check out the PerTronix website right here.