This invention relates to an ignition system for an internal combustion engine and a method of driving an ignition plug of an ignition system.

In order to improve emissions in petrol internal combustion engines to meet emission standards, the engine needs to be operated with a high exhaust gas recycling (EGR) or lean air-fuel mixtures. A corona ignition plug that improves combustion stability under these conditions is known. However, these plugs cannot be driven by a conventional ignition coil, but must be driven at a high frequency and a high voltage under varying load conditions, as the corona is generated and then grows. The known ignition systems are complicated and expensive. One of the factors making existing corona systems expensive is the requirement that the power delivered to the corona must be controlled carefully, to prevent sparking. Also, known spark plug ignition systems do not have the capability of controlling the amount of power delivered to a spark. The known systems deliver power proportional to the spark resistance. Because the amount of power delivered to the spark is not controllable and the spark resistance may differ between ignition cycles, the amount of power delivered to the spark may differ between cycles, The differences in power delivered may lead to undesirable differences in ignition and combustion between cycles.

Accordingly, it is an object of the invention to provide an ignition system and method of driving an ignition plug with which the applicant believes the aforementioned disadvantages may at least be alleviated or which may provide a useful alternative for the known systems and methods.


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