Why You Shall Use Coolant Water for Your Car Radiator, Instead of Mineral Water



Car Coolant Liquid Entry Point - Foto by YA

Caruser.net - Radiator is an automobile engine cooling device. The heat from the combustion engine is released in  the heat exchanger through such a fluid medium so called as cooling water or coolant liquid.


The fluid surrounds the outside of the machine, absorbing the heat generated from the combustion and then it's streamed to bring the heat to the radiator. At the radiator, the liquid is cooled down by indirect contact with the outside fan assisted air blowing. Once it's cooled down, the liquid is returned to the engine area, and so on until the engine temperature is stable and overheating is  avoided.

Fluid volume and extent of the contact area with the air in the radiator are calculated precisely that it's enough to keep the stable engine temperature at the required conditions. If the performance of the radiator components or coolant does not function normally, the engine temperature may continue to rise to overheat, even burn.

As the development of technology, particularly in the field of heat transfer, the automotive experts developed a special coolant for car radiator. Coolant technology has actually been around since the industrial revolution that the steam engine was widely used, but it's application on the car not long ago considered important.

Then why should we use a special coolant fluid in car radiator? even though plain or mineral waters can also be used as a coolant. There are several advantages of coolant liquid which also explains the adverse effects of constantly using mineral water as a coolant, following are the details:

Containing Special Chemical Composition

Coolant liquid is made from deionized water or also called as demineralized water. It's already cleaned from minerals and other impurities. Specialty chemicals then added to this super clean water in certain doses to meet the required properties of coolant.

The main components of Coolant: Deionized Water + Propylene Glycol + Corrosion Inhibitor

Propylene Glycol is an alcohol based chemical, this material is already widely used as a coolant additive because it possesses the ideal properties, such as: non-toxic, inert and increasing the boiling point of the fluid.

While the corrosion inhibitor is a chemical that prevents or slows down the rate of corrosion on the metal in contact with the coolant. So that the outside of the engine and radiator metal system are avoided from rusting.

Higher Boiling Point

Propylene increases the boiling point of the coolant liquid. This means that the coolant will be more difficult to evaporate even at high temperatures. This trait is important to prevent the leakage of the cooling system due to increased fluid volume by evaporation.

While the mineral water will evaporates faster, thus putting pressure on the cooling system components. In case of overheating, radiator components can leak or even rupture, since the vapor requires larger volume.

The continuous use of mineral water provides higher pressure as well, thereby reducing the durability of metal on the radiator components, at a certain point it's easily damaged and cracked/leaking.

Lower Freezing Point

Propylene nature also decreases the frizzing point of the coolant. Hence this substance are also called as antifreezing agent. Indeed, in tropical area this nature is not so important. But this coolant property will be very useful in extreme cold climates.

Chemically Inert or Stable

Deionized water with propylene content is inert or not readily react with metal components. Because it no longer contains reactive mineral ions. So it is very safe for the engine cooling system components.

Whereas if we use mineral water or plain water which were not cultivated, it still contains a lot of minerals and organic impurities that may react with the metal. Eg water in a swamp area that contains acid, it will slowly erode the metal in a certain period, then it will be thinned continuously.

Not Corrosive

The added corrosion inhibitor or anti-rust agent to the coolant is aimed for reducing the corrosive properties of water, usually these chemicals bind the dissolved oxygen in the water which is the corrosion agent. Hence, some anti-rust also called as oxygen scavenger.

Avoiding Calcium Crust

The high content of calcium (Ca) in mineral or plain water is very harmful to metal systems exposed to heat. Dissolved Calcium in the water settles into a white hard solid (Ca crust) when exposed to heat.

So if we use mineral water for quite long time, the calcium contained in the water will be continuously deposited on the metal surface of the outer side of the machine, in a long period the crust will grow thicker and thicker. The crust of calcium is a poor heat conductors, thus inhibiting the heat transfer from the engine to the coolant. As a result the engine will overheat. Under severe conditions, it may explode due to overheating.

The use of coolant which already cleaned from calcium ions through the process of deionized water making, is very useful in maintaining the cooling system from calcium crust.

More Effectively Absorbs the Heat

Back to the content of propylene which also gives lower viscosity to the coolant than ordinary water, causing more effective heat absorption. So the cooling of the engine runs better and more stable.

Hopefully this article may explain the importance of using a special liquid for cooling the car engine than mineral or plain water. The use of mineral water in the radiator is fine, as long as it is not continuous, such as for emergency situations only.

But it would be nice to avoid the use of mineral water at all by preparing a backup of coolant fluid in the car, so that it can be directly used when required.

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