Benefits of Ionized Air Intakes

"We look at an interesting project where intake air is Ionized"

We have some interesting members in our forums and sometime a project idea just stands out, so when Jonathan posted up his engine intake air ionizer I was intrigued.

You can follow his progress in the thread about this, or on his website (see the link below).

We asked him to tell us about this project, the ideas behind it and how it all works, and we got quite a lengthy detailed reply so I've posted it up in this article.

Please note we have not had the time to try this out ourselves, or verify his research but it looks solid enough to me, otherwise I wouldn't have posted this up.

So what's it all about?

The gist of it all is, indeed, sending ionized (electrically charged, statically charged) air into the engine intake.

I had not been able to discover much reading on theory on my own.

Some people who really know about physics and electronics responded to a recent post I made on a physics and electronics site by explaining that the widget is creating something called a "corona" at each of those brushes, and that apparently whenever there is a narrow-radius curve (or a sharp edge) on a conductor through which a negative corona is occuring, electrons will tend to jump off onto surrounding air molecules and charge them negatively.

The whole incident is presumably referred to as a "corona discharge."

A brush has many "sharp" edges, particularly when air is blasted over it, and an engine air inlet is a great spot to locate moving air:)

The whole incident is presumably referred to as a "corona discharge."

A brush has many "sharp" edges, particularly when air is blasted over it, and an engine air inlet is a great spot to locate moving air:)

So then we get to what happens to an engine after that, which needs to be a lot more hazy since I don't have anything even close to the test equipment to conduct the actual thing.

For starters, I'd want to confirm that the output of each widget is correct. But, in any case, here's a contemporary theory:

When one burns anything, a temperature is reached at which the reaction occurs. A lot of that temperature, I recall an instructor telling me once, is loosening up the molecules enough to make them sufficiently unstable.

How does Ionized air help the engine?

Anything that has been ionised or electrically charged is more reactive and less stable. It "wishes" to respond and engage more.

Any combustion containing one or more ionised components should therefore need less energy for pre-reaction heating, create greater gas expansion and waste heat, and occur at a lower temperature.

When one of my friends saw the widgetry, he instantly proposed that the major benefit would be improved dispersion of the mixture in the cylinders due to particle repulsion (likes repel, unlikes attract...).

I hadn't considered it before, but I can't ignore it now.

At the present, I believe the engine computers are assisting in some manner.

At least one seemingly smarter mouth than mine has argued that certain oxygen sensors are most likely interpreting ionised air as more oxygenated, and maybe also reading exhaust gases as creating more complete combustion.

How can you check this?

I do have an OBD2 reader, although a rudimentary one, and one of these days I'll have to toggle the widgetry on and off to see whether the computer notices.

If it is, I'll start thinking about a laptop-powered ODB2 system.

The visible impacts of the widgetry seem to be strongest around one week after each fresh install, and then decrease a little after a month or two, which I assumed was likely due to the machine responding to it all.

However, this is clearly incredibly subjective, and hence, to be honest, quite suspicious.

Also, and perhaps more importantly, I haven't seen any computer interface gear that is obviously equipped to provide both (a) protection against doing damage and (b) the freedom to adjust this category (timing, mixing) for the better.

So what are you aiming to do?

The principal goal now is to get people and their vehicles involved so we share the joy and build the mindshare.  There are three big things which bring it to high practicality:

1.  For best behavior, a voltage regulator needs to go on the circuit, so that no matter what the revs are, the electronics get a steady voltage.

This makes the system very predictable, and, I'll think, gives something much more helpful to any engine computer.

2.  To maximize overall control and potential of result, is to not use the commercially available circuits as they were designed, which is, to interact with air either with metal pins or little carbon-fiber brushes.

Instead, the output is wired a clip (I found I liked the security of a recurved "terminal clip" rather than an "alligator clip") which is then secured to metal mesh in contact with (or, if available, integral to) the stock air filter.

Many stock air filters now have no metal, so I'm planning on getting some mesh and folding it, very possibly nickel instead of stainless steel.

There are some interesting materials out there.

3.  To give the right amount of ionization for all parameters, e.g., displacement of engine, temperature of spark, and environmental air temperature, we vary that voltage.

Below 32 F (zero C) we want considerably less ionization if we're working with a stock 1998 Chevrolet SUV 5.7L V8, and 5VDC on a clip is very comfortable to a single-output electronic air charger unit rated for 12VDC.

Larger engines, or hotter sparks, or probably turbo/supercharged engines, should be able to take more.  Smaller takes less, or simply uses ambient (pins or brushes in the airstream).

One knows for sure when one is running too much ionization, in a gasoline engine, because one or more plugs will foul 🙂

The results are nice when it's right.  Much smoother running, perceptible power under the foot.  One friend reported cooler running, which would explain the plug fouling issue, and implies that racing mods should interact with this in very interesting ways.

I'll get some fresh hard numbers as to mileage (kilometrage?) ASAP.  It's also ridiculously low cost for the fun, about US$40 in current configuration.

Wires into the fuse box using something called a "fuse tap" which audio enthusiasts use, it gives you a new fuse for this circuit, which actually uses a very tiny amount of power, considerably less than 1 amp (at 12VDC).

On the web site I'm offering $40 for a custom-tailored kit.

And I could wish I was more of a wrencher, and lived out of town, because I'd love to try this with something not-new tractor and/or diesel.

Diesel should, theoretically, be able to make use of much more ionized air, because it doesn't rely on precise spark like gasoline does.

And not-new tractor is just nice big iron with lots of flexibility; but I'll be happy to make a bunch of friends and help how I may.  This year I'm hoping that some local and semi-local engine shows will reopen.  We'll see.

I have lots of pix up on the project web site: ponderworthy.com

So please check out his site and get involved in the project, if the power gains, and fuel economy gains pan out this could be a very interesting project as it develops.

Check out my YouTube channel, we're regularly adding new content...


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One Response to “Ionized Air Intake”

  1. Levent öner says:

    İ am trying this idea on my Corolla

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