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Device that fits into the cylinder head of an internal-combustion engine and carries two electrodes separated by an air gap, across which current from a high-tension ignition system discharges, creating a spark and igniting the fuel. The electrodes and the insulator separating them must withstand high temperatures, as well as an electric stress of up to several thousand volts. Spark-gap length affects the energy of the spark, and the shape of the insulator affects the temperature of operation.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on spark plug, visit Britannica.com.