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The history of obsolete Spark Gap technology - Part 2

Spark gaps create [illegal] radio frequency interferences in open air and create unpredictable EMF disturbances.


Spark gaps create toxic fumes like nitrogen oxide and ozone.


Fans used in spark gap PEMF devices send these toxins into the room where they are inhaled by the users, possibly damaging mucus membranes and lungs.

Spark gap radio frequency interference.j

Control of the pulsing frequency and intensity of PEMF spark gap machines is usually done by turning a knob changing the distance between the spark electrodes allowing the high voltage capacitor to reach a higher voltage dependent on the breakdown voltage level of the spark gap. This is followed by ionizing the air between the electrodes, reducing the electrical resistance and letting the high voltage capacitor pass the energy into the coil creating a high intensity impulse.

This is a stochastic process because ionization of the air gap between the electrodes is random and depends on the air quality between the electrodes, creating irregular pulsing frequencies and irregular intensities.

Vintage spark gap tube.jpg

Generally, spark gap technology is still used when there is no other solution of transferring high voltages and high currencies into loads but semiconductor manufacturers constantly improve solid state switches for higher voltages and currents.


Spark gaps were historically applied in the past for spark gap radio transmitters and X-ray machines but today they are mostly still used in cars and for protecting equipment from high voltage transient pulses.

Similarly, the way what happened over time by replacing obsolete radio tubes for transistors and television tube screens with LED, plasma and OLED displays, also spark gaps are fading more and more out as solid-state solutions become more available.


There are still medical professionals who prefer very high intensities by using spark gaps however for effective PEMF applications 4.000 Gauss is usually sufficient and is obtained with modern solid-state technology. This will result in fading out of PEMF spark gap machines in the very near future and being replaced by solid state devices with similar high intensities as spark machines when they will sooner than later reach the market.

Like Nasa discarded the obsolte space shuttle for the Dragon spacecraft propelled by the SpaceX Falcon rocket to send astronauts to the space station, so also obsolte spark gap PEMF systems are being replaced by solid state devices. 


PEMF treatments above 10.000 Gauss are usually painful when applied locally because of very strong [unbearable] muscle movements, possibly limiting the use of maximum intensities.

Sometimes even a loaner machine is offered, showing the need for electrode replacement during the time the PEMF spark machine is under repair. This only proves that these machines are becoming not only obsolte but are also very service sensitive, because of the wearing out of the spark gap electrodes, exactly the same way as happens with spark plugs in cars, which also need to be replaced regularly.

Dragon space craft

In the past, kidney stones were disintegrated by electrohydraulic spark gap lithotripters which are nowadays being replaced by modern electromagnetic lithotripters.


Possibly spark plugs in cars will also be replaced by laser igniters in the future, when development of this technology is finished and prices will become attractive for car manufacturers. Photoconductive solid-state switches are also in development but too expensive for use in PEMF devices.

Not too long ago it was impossible to replace spark gaps for intensities above ~ 5000 Gauss but there are already other solutions within reach for very high intensities similar to PEMF spark gap machines but much safer, very reliable and not requiring electrode replacements and our company will look into this technology in the future.

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