Here’s a good bit of it.
- For a number of decades, there have been “negative air ionizers” available retail, for the home. These have always added (or said to add) to create ions of air, which is to say, to give static electrical charge to air particles. Starting in the twenty-oughts or so, these started to proliferate, and ionizers began to be added to a large proportion of air conditioners and other HVAC products, because in addition to apparent health benefits (air after a thunderstorm is often quite ionized), dust and other impurities tend to drop out of ionized air and filters become more effective. Anyway, in 2017 I was faunching to do something interesting with my 1998 Chevrolet Tahoe, and my dad had helped me understand that I really really didn’t want to try heating the fuel (worked well with a carburetor I had years before…), and it occurred to me that I could try this. So I did. It has helped a lot, that one can buy a self-contained electronics package ready to go for the purpose! I have been calling them “air charger units” am hoping that is not too confusing, but I have to call them something, “widgets” just does not cut it!
- From 2018 to mid-2021, built from 1 to 14 air charger units into the filter compartment of my Tahoe. The first one was interesting, done in the heart of a very cold winter, helped the V8 handle it. It worked nicely, and increasingly so, but the behavior over time didn’t match the changes in the setup. There were unexplained engine hesitations that came and went, which appeared to go away at fourteen, but then at fourteen the results didn’t quite match the addition. All of this was done according to a model where the electronics were mounted on the outside of the air filter container, and carbon fiber brushes were glued into holes drilled. The culmination is shown in the first picture above. The second picture shows the inside of the air filter compartment, with the carbon-fiber ends sticking through. At the back is an experiment, a custom-fabricated carbon fiber brush, to which I had attached the last two electronics packages.
- With just six (6) of the charger units in place in the Tahoe, gasoline mileage was measured at 2.8% improved, over a careful 20-mile run repeated twice, outside temperature the same, and after the engine was well into its steady hot state. On the Dodge truck, just two charger units was the rule, and they helped, and even permitted good behavior using E-85 gasoline. This and the above was the progression of things for almost two years. Once it occurred during this period, that something mysterious happened to spark plug #4, which was replaced. My mechanic friend Matt said that #4 had the least compression, on this particular engine, and there may be a relative temperature issue too. More on this later.
- But we want to make this practical in general, and we want to push the envelope, to see how much improvement we can really get, with more predictability. And one would prefer one electronics package versus fourteen! So in mid-2021, after a lot of pondering, a thought which had been quietly talking to me for some time, was implemented. On the Tahoe, the air filter is held together by a metal mesh. I added a single electronics package, with all four leads combined, clipped to the mesh. The response to this was amazing. Bertha’s (the Tahoe’s) engine literally howled the first time it was started with this. So I unplugged all the fourteen others that were still engaged, and ran with the one clip. The result was still quite astonishing, it was clear that the one clip was doing more than all fourteen “ambient” combined.
- Multiple setups were tried over the next months. Sometimes it ran steady and well. Plug #4 fouled a number of times, as did #3 and #6. Matt said that all of these cylinders were relatively low in compression compared to the rest. I was seeing more consistency with just the clip and variations within it, so I removed all of the other electronics packages, just leaving the single clip attached to the mesh on the air filter. For vehicles with no mesh on their filter, I plan to add stainless-steel mesh to their filters, probably two or three inches square, zigzag-bent to fit in the folds of the air filter itself.
- And then when outside air temperature dipped below 32 degrees F, it occurred that the engine ran a bit rough. I pulled over and switched to a clip with just two leads combined, and then just one lead, and noticed that it got worse, not better, and also, the other electronics packages made more of their typical quiet noise than the original. I disconnected it all, and it was clear that a spark plug had gone bad. So I immediately dosed the gas with lots of Techron, which minimized the situation until I could get Matt to replace it again (it was #4, the usual), but there appeared quite the learning:
- Not all of the electronics packages I had been using, were consistent in output. A method to measure before mounting, is necessary. We have one now, thanks to a contributor; it is helping quite a lot to set new planning and analysis in good order.
- There is a clear drop in how much ion delivery is appropriate, at about 32 degrees F. This has to be remembered carefully.
- One four-wire clip using these packages, is probably at the edge of appropriate setup for this engine, for warm weather only. Very good information to have.
- Over the times, I was told and read a number of things. Bertha has an aftermarket flow-through exhaust system, which requires 91 octane or higher for good behavior, including preventing plugs from fouling, according to the folks who sold her to me, and corroborated sometimes (and not always) elsewhere. I could think about changing the ignition system a bit, maybe hotter plugs and/or hotter coil, but it seems wisest on this very computerized engine to leave all of that stock.
- I bought a variety of single-output air charger units, different makes and models, tested them all with the meter, and every one put out about 10 million particles per cubic cm measured at 10cm distance, except one model which was a total dud, one could smell the ozone and see the corona discharge on its metal pins, but the meter showed it was putting out almost no ionized air particles at all! But 10 M/cm^3^ at 10cm does seem to be a very standard output. Good to know. Much more on this will be in a new article soon.
- And so, beginning early January 2022, I have a marvelously functional yet stable setup on Bertha’s engine. I bought some small (less than one cubic inch) DC voltage regulator/converters, which take the 11.5-to-15 volts from the electrical system and put out a very stable 5.0 volts. I tested one of my 12VDC single-output air charger units with 5.0 volts, and it’s putting out about 4 M/cm3 @ 10cm. I wired the output of that unit to a clip, clipped onto the air filter, all of the bits being secured with 3M Dual Lock.
- The above improved stability quite a lot, but not enough. All of the plug-foulings occurred during the very cold, so I have set up a thermostat switch to shut the ionization circuitry down when the temperature inside the air intake falls below 34F / 3C. This appears to be keeping things very nice indeed. At first my mark was 20F / 6.7C, and that seemed to do very nicely until one day of all of cold, wet, and icy. So far, very good indeed with 34F / 3C. This temperature switch component is amazing, a standard part made by a large number of manufacturers, with very precise digital adjustability and readout, and shockingly low prices from many sources.
- I’m still keeping the ambient method open for many applications. Here’s what I had on Bertha right before the clip, it’s a quad-output bound up so the wires don’t flop around. It secures in the air filter compartment using 3M Dual Lock, which is like Velcro but stronger, the two sides are the same.
- The next step, in slow development, is Stage II, where a lot more ionized air will be thrown in when engine RPM rises to 1600 or so. Two commercially-available RPM switches have failed to work as advertised on this vehicle, but there does appear to be a somewhat-undiscussed option to use induction from a clamp on a spark-plug wire, so this is being studied.
Have a great day!