Winter Chemistry Products – TRIPLE PROTECTION
ROWE offers its customers a broad range of automotive fluids, subsumed under the general term ‘winter chemistry’. These include screenwashes and antifreezes, available commercially worldwide under the retail names HIGHTEC SCREENWASH and HIGHTEC ANTIFREEZE. While production of these fluids is carried out at our site in Bubenheim, using the latest load cell technology, the work in Worms focuses on driving research and development of new high-performance products.
With over 20 different fluids offering various functionalities, our customers can expect customised solutions for their requirements. In this issue of ROWE INSIDE, we take a closer look at our coolants.
The most exacting of requirements
On average, every minute around 150 litres of coolant is pumped through a car’s cooling circuit. On commercial vehicles, the figure is somewhat higher. As it does so, the mixture of water and glycol (a high-grade alcohol) comes into contact with over 100 different materials. If the right coolant is not used, then the combination of water, oxygen, pressure differences and high temperatures in the cooling system produces the ideal conditions for rust and cavitation. Deep holes can be eaten into the metal, leading to damage to the cylinder head and the cooling pump. In the worst-case scenario, there is the threat of a total failure of the cooling system, inevitably leading to expensive engine damage. For that reason, a cooling fluid must fundamentally exhibit three different properties. Firstly, it carries off the heat generated in the engine during the combustion process to the radiator, so that the engine does not overheat. Next, the coolant ensures that the water in the cooling circuit does not freeze, even in winter at low temperatures. Lastly, the coolant must be able to protect the engine and all the materials incorporated into the car’s cooling circuit against corrosion. Glycol-based lubricants can tackle the first two requirements with ease, but corrosion protection is based on chemicals known as additives which are used up over the lifecycle of a coolant. The chemical composition of the additives is different for all coolants, and it is what distinguishes the wheat from the chaff. In the global coolants market, as for most other products, there are standards and specifications aimed at informing the customer about the quality of the product he is buying. Most car manufacturers have specifications that a coolant must satisfy in order to be approved, which then gives the consumer a good feeling when he tops up his cooling system using that product. It is not just the colours that are different for the products in the HIGHTEC range. Each HIGHTEC product also contains a special composition of additives, respectively adapted to the car manufacturers’ various cooling systems.
Top-quality lab engineering
To check the product quality of its own formulae and of competitor products, ROWE has countless instruments and equipment available in its coolant laboratory at its site in Worms, enabling it to come up with answers to the latest challenges thrown up by the automotive industry. Using standardised tests, the coolants are tested in the radiator frost protection laboratory for their physical properties and their protective effect against corrosion and cavitation. Numerous physical parameters such as pH value, density, refractive index, water equivalent and reserve alkalinity can be measured fully-automatically side by side. Stability at high temperatures and the performance of the additives, both of which are a result of the interactions between the materials in the cooling circuit and the coolant, are evaluated at ROWE under both static and dynamic test conditions. Corrosion phenomena are not only evaluated using the changes in weight in the test samples before and after testing, as is required by the industry, but are also assessed and documented visually, using 100 times magnification under a light microscope. In addition to the corrosion-inhibiting properties of an antifreeze, lifetime filling of the cooling circuit is becoming an increasingly important consideration for the automotive industry. Accordingly, the coolant manufacturer needs to provide proof that the corrosion protection additives in the coolant do not break down over time, even under a wide range of conditions. To take account of these requirements, ROWE has invested a lot of money in instrument-based analysis. ICP (inductively-coupled plasma spectroscopy) and atomic absorption spectroscopy make it possible to identify any elements in the periodic table, even when present only in trace amounts. Organic components of coolants can be determined qualitatively and quantitively, even in the smallest concentrations, using HPLC (High Performance Liquid Chromatography). This enables us to respond to the automotive industry’s wishes to identify how the additives break down over time. When it comes to engine development, similarly, lowering CO2 emissions and other emissions which are also being held responsible for climate change is increasingly important. Even in the long term, no end to this development is foreseeable, given the tightened limit values under the emissions legislation (e.g. the Euro-6 standards) and the general aspiration of lowering CO2 emissions. In the past, various concepts were applied by the automotive industry to reduce consumption and pollutants, whilst simultaneously improving performance. Examples of this are the further development of direct injection, downsizing and turbocharging. Common to all of these is an increase in thermal transfer to the cooling system, and thus greater demands placed on the coolant.
Test under real conditions
To test our new product developments under real test conditions for this increased thermal transfer, ROWE purchased a hot testing unit. The unit comprises a closed cooling circuit in which 4.5 litres of coolant is pumped around the circuit by a coolant pump at a flow rate of 4.3 litres/minute, at an overpressure of 1.6 bar. The materials used for hoses, radiators, balancing containers, sampling chambers and the water pump correspond to the material from the original coolant circuit in the vehicle, and can even be exchanged on a modular basis. With the aid of software, it is possible to mirror the widely-varying stresses on the coolant in specific driving situations. Thus we can simulate the stresses involved in a cold start, on long motorway journeys carrying a full load, or the automatic start/stop where the engine is repeatedly switched on and off in day-to-day urban traffic.
In a sentence: ROWE is well-equipped to continue its successful close partnership with the automotive industry in the coolants sector as we move forward.<< back to overview