The radiator is the most important component in engine cooling. Radiators are heat exchangers, which transfer thermal energy, for the purpose of cooling the engine, via coolant. The hot coolant that flows through the radiator is usually water-based, with the addition of glycols which prevents freezing, corrosion, erosion and cavitation. Coolant in most of today’s vehicles is circulated with the use of a pump. The coolant is transferred thought the use of a radiator hose which is designed to tolerate the high temperature of the coolant. Radiators can be specially made for high performance engines as well. These high performance radiators will usually always be made out of aluminum and feature larger tubes which help to improve coolant flow.
Radiators cool an engine by taking the heated coolant which passes through the engine block, and feeding it into an inlet tank on the radiator. This hot coolant is then distributed across the radiator core, were it cools down as it passes through the radiator tubes. As it passes through the radiators tubes, the heat is transferred to the tube which in turn transfers the heat to fins which are attached to the tubes. These fins increase the surface area in which the heat has to spread out therefore increasing the heat exchange efficiency of the radiator. After the coolant has passed through the tubes in the radiator, the coolant which is now much cooler is fed back into the engine were it repeats this cycle over and over again to help keep the temperature of the engine down.
Radiators are normally designed to take up a large amount of surface area and are placed in the front of the vehicle to provide for the best air flow possible. Better air flow means that the fins have more air flowing across them which helps to keep them cool. Radiators are usually placed behind the grille of a vehicle which helps keep them protected from the elements, but still allows for air to pass through the openings in the grille. Radiators are usually made out of brass, copper, and aluminum. The newer radiators are more likely to incorporate more aluminum on them because it is cheaper and weighs less than brass or copper. This weight loss is especially needed in high performance vehicles were the name of the game is to take weight off the front of the car. Sometimes radiators have designated cooling fans which can help produce air flow when the vehicle is not in motion or at lower speeds. These fans are sometimes designed to disengage when the vehicle is at higher speeds and having a fan is not necessary.
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