Microwave-pulse ignition, backed by ex-Porsche CEO, claims lower emissions

Exhaust emissions from tailpipe [photo: Simone Ramella, 2005, used under Creative Commons 2.0]

Exhaust emissions from tailpipe [photo: Simone Ramella, 2005, used under Creative Commons 2.0]

A German startup claims it has the technology to help keep internal-combustion engines on the road for decades to come.

MWI Microwave Ignition believes it can cut gasoline and diesel fuel usage by 30 percent and reduce emissions from a typical engine by 80 percent, according to a Thursday Automotive News (subscription required) report. And the company has a few prominent backers, too. One is none other than former Porsche CEO, Wendelin Wiedeking.

Wendelin Wiedeking

Wendelin Wiedeking

Wiedeking is perhaps best known for his failed attempt to take over the VW Group after Porsche purchased a majority share in the company nearly 10 years ago. Ultimately, the economic recession that strangled the globe put an end to his ambitions.

On the new technology, Wiedeking said he’s convinced MWI Microwave Ignition will disrupt the marketplace with its innovative technology. The system works by igniting fuel via pulsed microwaves rather than spark plugs. The different combustion process helps the fuel ignite at much lower temperatures. Better yet, per the company, it can be applied to existing engine architecture and doesn’t require re-engineering.

It may prove impossible to overlook the irony surrounding this venture. Wiedeking was one of many German auto executives who claimed such technology would only provide minimal benefits to emissions reductions only a few years ago. And we’ve heard similar promises about emissions reductions on this level before, but that ended in VW’s 2015 diesel emissions scandal.

Wiedeking and other private investors own 20 percent of the company, according to the report, while majority control remains with founders Armin and Volker Gallatz. The company has also begun conversations with large automakers from China and South Korea to potentially take advantage of the technology.

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