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In a gasoline engine, the means used for producing an electric spark to ignite the fuel-air mixture in the cylinders to produce the motive force. The ignition system consists of a storage battery recharged by a generator, an induction coil, a device to produce timed high-voltage discharges from the induction coil, a distributor, and a set of spark plugs. The battery provides an electric current of low voltage, usually 12 volts, that is converted by the system to some 40,000 volts. The distributor routes the successive bursts of high-voltage current to each spark plug in the proper firing order.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on ignition system, visit Britannica.com.
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