Iridium spark plugs are widely recognised as the superior ignition product for high-performance engines, but it’s worth exploring the pros and cons of iridium spark plugs to determine why this is the case, especially in the context of high iridium prices at the moment.
What is the advantage of iridium spark plugs?
Of all the metals used in industrial applications, iridium is one of the most unusual. Appearing as number 77 on the Periodic Table of elements and classed as one of the platinum family of metals, iridium was only discovered in 1803 and is one of the rarest metals on earth. In fact, iridium isn’t thought to be native to earth at all, with most iridium sources being traceable to the ‘dinosaur killing’ asteroid impact of 65 million years ago.
The metal is found in a thin stratum in various parts of the world and is sometimes released by volcanic eruptions, but in practice it is hard to find and even more difficult to extract from its base ores. In its raw state, iridium is brittle and difficult to work with, and global production of iridium is less than 7,000 kg.
The reason businesses go to the trouble of using iridium in spark plug construction is the metal’s unique combination of extreme toughness with conductivity and electrical resistance.
Pros Of Iridium Spark Plugs
- The good conductivity of iridium alloy electrodes increases the concentration of the spark, leading to quicker ignition and greater engine power.
- Iridium is a durable and tough metal, providing a long service life and high performance under extreme conditions.
- A lower voltage is required to create a spark, leading to greater fuel economy.
- Excellent heat resistance up to 2400°C.
- Superior corrosion resistance.
- Less prone to deterioration and sudden failures.
Cons 0f Iridium Spark Plugs
- Iridium spark plugs are much more expensive than platinum and copper spark plugs.
- In terms of like-for-like performance, an iridium spark plug is on par with a good quality platinum spark plug, which is usually available for less money.
- Not all iridium spark plugs are engineered to the same standards. The best models use two or three layers of iridium on the central electrode, whereas the cheapest models may use only one thin layer. These can be prone to cracks and impact damage, so for the best results, always invest in a double or triple coated spark plug.
- Iridium dust is highly flammable, so fire precautions should be taken in high temperature applications.
Find Out More
There are pros and cons of iridium spark plugs, but in many cases they are the best component for the job, and provide excellent value for money. However, iridium spark plugs aren’t the only option available, and we also stock a wide range of platinum, rhodium, and copper spark plugs for different applications. To discuss your options with one of our team, please send us a message or call us directly.
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