The concept of an automotive spark plug hasn’t changed a whole lot since its invention over a century and a half ago, but what has transpired is a range of different approaches to the same basic principle in an effort to produce greater burn — and in turn, more power and efficiency.
If you’ve spent much time in the racing landscape, you’ve likely heard of E3 Spark Plugs’ DiamondFire technology. But what is it, exactly?
Traditional spark plugs utilize whats known as a “J-wire” side-wire electrode, which was developed in 1904 and has been the de-facto standard ever since. What E3’s engineers, including Don Ward, designed was a diamond-shaped wide-wire electrode that projects the combustion spark in a manner that more quickly ignites the air/fuel mixture, in turn creating a larger flame kernel.
“The ground wire is three-legged and welded to the shell in three different spots. What it does is, as the fuel and air come in there, it causes the air to tumble and atomizes the fuel. So at the point of the spark, there’s more oxygen and fuel. This is the new technology that’s out there, and it’s the only real new innovation in spark plugs since virtually the time they were invented,” Ward says.
The result of this tumbling of the fuel and air, as noted, is better fuel mileage, reduced emissions, quicker starts, and for racers, more horsepower.
E3 first instituted this new technology in their small engine product lines — lawnmowers and such — before canvassing their entire catalog with the DiamondFire design, even offering a plug designed for 10,000 horsepower Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars. Ward notes, “I tell people all the time that if I can make a plug last for four seconds in a nitro car, it’s real easy to make one last 100,000 miles in your street car.”
Working closely with Todd Okuhara at Don Schumacher Racing, E3 found that three gallons per minute of additional fuel flow was necessary when using the DiamondFire plug over a J-plug style due to the additional burn. Simply put, “it works,” says Ward.