All You Need To Know About Antifreeze
Antifreeze, also referred to as coolant, is an additive that is mixed with water in vehicles to prevent the radiator from freezing or overheating. Basically, it lowers lower the freezing point and increases the boiling point of a water-based liquid.
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Initially, cars used methanol as a coolant but later on replaced by ethylene glycol. Nowadays the common antifreezes are made from ethylene glycol or propylene glycol. The greenish or yellowish glycol-based fluid changes the boiling point and freezing point of water. For instance, water freezes below -35 degrees Fahrenheit and boil above 223 °F.
Ethylene glycol is quite sweet smelling but very toxic to both humans and animals. On the other hand, propylene glycol is only hazardous when consumed in gigantic quantities.
Since water has great qualities as a coolant, it is mixed with antifreeze and used in internal combustion engines. When the water freezes, the enclosure can burst due to expansion. Antifreeze comes in handy to prevent this occurrence. Antifreeze enables the mixture to remain in a liquid state within a wide range of temperature. This is essential as it enhances efficiency in heat transfer and ensures heat exchangers are functioning properly.
Types of Antifreeze
There are two types of antifreeze, the concentrated type and ready-mixed type. Ready-mixed antifreeze is also known as a coolant and can be used directly. Concentrated antifreeze needs to be diluted with water preferable at 50/50 ratio.
Function of Antifreeze
Most automotive engines use a mixture of water and antifreeze to remove excess heat. The function of the coolant in the internal combustion engine is convective heat transfer. The coolant also has other additives including corrosion inhibitors and water pump seal lubricant. The inhibitors protect the radiator since it contains metals such as copper, aluminum and cast iron that are electrochemically incompatible.
Water has its limitations as a suitable heat transfer fluid. Antifreeze was developed to address these shortcomings. Some engines have freeze plugs places near the engine block to protect the engine from damage should the ambient temperature fall below the antifreeze freezing point. It is worth noting that freeze plugs are not the same thing as core plugs. Conversely, the coolant might get very hot such that it boils inside the vehicle engine resulting in voids. These voids (steam pockets) could cause engine failure.
Using plain water as the coolant can promote corrosion. Pressurized engine coolant and suitable coolant can help to counter the problems that make plain water unsuitable coolant. Antifreeze can tolerate a wide temperature range. Subjecting the coolant under pressure using radiator cap increases the fluid boiling point. This allows an engine to operate under high temperature and promotes fuel efficiency.
It is imperative that you check your coolant levels at least twice a year. To ensure your coolant system work efficiently, you should flush the coolant with a cleaning agent. Then refill the coolant with ideal levels of coolant and antifreeze.
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