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Brake Fluid / Coolant

Automotive brake fluid has many responsibilities. Corrosion protection and lubrication of brake system components are only a portion of the role brake fluid must play.

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Equipment Description

Recommended Raw Materials
About Brake Fluids :
Automotive brake fluid has many responsibilities. Corrosion protection and lubrication of brake system components are only a portion of the role brake fluid must play.

All automobiles that have a hydraulic braking system must use brake fluid in order for the brake system to operate. The type of fluid used can depend on the type of vehicle and the demands of the vehicles brake system. The two most common brake fluids used in the automotive industry are fluids that contain Polyalkylene Glycol Ether and fluid that contains Silicone or Silicium-based Polymer. Both Fluids are common but very different in regards to the manner in which they perform. Fluids containing Polyalklene Glycol Ether are more widely used and are the only fluids that should be used in racing brake systems. Because brake systems may reach extreme temperatures brake fluid must have the ability to withstand these temperatures and not degrade rapidly.

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Silicone Based Fluid

Fluids containing Silicone are generally used in military type vehicles and because Silicone based fluids will not damage painted surfaces they are also somewhat common in show cars.

Silicone-based fluids are regarded as DOT 5 fluids. They are highly compressible and can give the driver a feeling of a spongy pedal. The higher the brake system temperature the more the compressibility of the fluid and this increases the feeling of a spongy pedal.

Silicone based fluids are non-hydroscopic meaning that they will not absorb or mix with water. When water is present in the brake system it will create a water/fluid/water/fluid situation. Because water boils at approximately 212º F, the ability of the brake system to operate correctly decreases, and the steam created from boiling water adds air to the system. It is important to remember that water may be present in any brake system. Therefore silicone brake fluid lacks the ability to deal with moisture and will dramatically decrease a brake systems performance.

Polyglycolether Based Fluids

Fluids containing Poly Glycol ethers are regarded as DOT 3, 4, and DOT 5.1. These type fluids are Hydroscopic meaning they have an ability to mix with water and still perform adequately. However, water will drastically reduce the boiling point of fluid. In a passenger car this is not an issue. In a race car it is a major issue because as the boiling point decreases the performance ability of the fluid also decreases.

Poly glycol type fluids are 2 times less compressible than silicone type fluids, even when heated. Less compressibility of brake fluid will increase pedal feel. Changing fluid on a regular basis will greatly increase the performance of the brake system.

Fluid Specifications : All brake fluids must meet federal standard #116. Under this standard is three Department of Transportation (DOT) minimal specifications for brake fluid. They are DOT 3, DOT 4, and DOT 5.1 (for fluids based with Polyalkylene Glycol Ether) and DOT 5 (for Silicone based fluids).

MINIMAL boiling points for these specifications are as follows :
Dry Boiling Point Wet Boiling Point
DOT 3 401oF 284oF
DOT 4 446oF 311oF
DOT 5 500oF 356oF
DOT 5.1 518oF 375oF

Racing brake fluids always exceeds the DOT specifications for dry boiling points. Wet boiling points generally remain the same.

WET VS. DRY Boiling Point
The term boiling point when used regarding brake fluid means the temperatures that brake fluid will begin to boil.

WET Boiling Point
The minimum temperatures that brake fluids will begin to boil when the brake system contains 3% water by volume of the system.

DRY Boiling Point
The temperatures that brake fluid will boil with no water present in the system.

Moisture In The Brake System
Water/moisture can be found in nearly all brake systems. Moisture enters the brake system in several ways. One of the more common ways is from using old or pre-opened fluid. Keep in mind, that brake fluid draws in moisture from the surrounding air. Tightly sealing brake fluid bottles and not storing them for long periods of time will help keep moisture out. When changing or bleeding brake fluid always replace master cylinder caps as soon as possible to prevent moisture from entering into the master cylinder. Condensation, (small moisture droplets) can form in lines and calipers. As caliper and line temperatures heat up and then cool repeatedly, condensation occurs, leaving behind an increase in moisture/water. Over time the moisture becomes trapped in the internal sections of calipers, lines, master cylinders, etc. When this water reaches 212º F the water turns to steam. Many times air in the brake system is a result of water that has turned to steam. The build up of steam will create air pressure in the system, sometimes to the point that enough pressure is created to push caliper pistons into the brake pad. This will create brake drag as the rotor and pads make contact and can also create more heat in the system. Diffusion is another way in that water/moisture may enter the system.

Diffusion occurs when over time moisture enters through rubber brake hoses. The use of hoses made from EPDM materials (Ethlene-Propylene-Diene-Materials) will reduce the amount of diffusion OR use steel braided brake hose with a non-rubber sleeve (usually Teflon) to greatly reduce the diffusion process.

Things To Remember :

Recommended Raw Materials :

Brief Manufacturing Process :
All raw materials from 2 to 7 have to first be dissolved in MEG slowly. This is done by first transferring small quantities of say 100 ltrs MEG with Sodium Benzoate in the heating vessel and heating upto 90-100C.Once the Sodium is dissolved it is to be transferred to the Mixing vessel using the filter and transfer pump. Similarly Borax is next dissolved with 100 Ltrs of MEG in the heating vessel and transferred to the mixing vessel after passing through the filter. Like wise all items from 2-7 are dissolved in MEG and transferred to the mixing vessel after filtering.

Next items 7 to 12 are all water soluble. They are to be dissolved in distilled water without heating and transferred to the mixing vessel.

Finally at the last stage the complete charge in the mixing vessel is mixed for approx 20 mins and filled as per requirements in ½ to 1 ltr containers.

About Antifreeze Coolant
Antifreeze is a cryoprotectant used in internal combustion engines, and for many other heat transfer applications, such as HVAC chillers and solar water heaters. The purpose of antifreeze is to prevent a rigid enclosure from undergoing physical stresses and catastrophic deformation due to the expansion that occurs when water turns to ice. Compounds are added to the water to reduce the freezing point of the mixture below the lowest temperature that the system is likely to be exposed to, and to inhibit corrosion in cooling systems, which often contain a range of electrochemically incompatible metals (aluminum, cast iron, copper, lead solder, etc.).

The term colligative agent may better describe the benefits of these compounds in warm climates, since they not only achieve freezing point depression in the winter when mixed with water, they coincidentally achieve boiling point elevation of water. Colligative agents are properly referred to as both antifreeze and "anti-boil" when used for both properties. The term engine coolant is widely used in the automotive industry, which covers its primary function of conductive heat transfer.

Methanol :

Methanol, also known as methyl alcohol, carbinol, wood alcohol, wood naphtha or wood spirits, is a chemical compound with chemical formula CH3OH (often abbreviated MeOH). It is the simplest alcohol, and is a light, volatile, colourless, flammable, poisonous liquid with a distinctive odor that is somewhat milder and sweeter than ethanol (ethyl alcohol). At room temperature it is a polar liquid and is used as an antifreeze, solvent, fuel, and as a denaturant for ethyl alcohol. It is not very popular for machinery, but it can be found in automotive windshield washer fluid, de-icers, and gasoline additives to name a few.

Ethylene glycol :

Ethylene glycol solutions became available in 1926 and were marketed as "permanent antifreeze," since the higher boiling points provided advantages for summertime use as well as during cold weather. They are still used today for a wide variety of applications, including automobiles.

Ethylene glycol antifreezes are poisonous and should be kept away from any person or animal that might be tempted by its sweet taste. In order to prevent ingestion, a bittering agent (denatonium benzoate) may be added to engine coolant to make it taste unpleasant. In 2005, a bill was initiated in the United States Congress that would make mandatory the use of a bittering agent, but the legislation failed to pass.[1] it is a chemical that prevents liquid from freezing,such as the antifreeze used in car engines

Propylene glycol :

Propylene glycol, on the other hand, is considerably less toxic and may be labeled as "non-toxic antifreeze". It is used as antifreeze where ethylene glycol would be inappropriate, such as in food-processing systems or in water pipes in homes, as well as numerous other settings. It is also used in food, medicines, and cosmetics, often as a binding agent. Propylene glycol is "generally recognized as safe" by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in food. However, propylene glycol-based antifreeze should not be considered safe for consumption. In the event of accidental ingestion, emergency medical services should be contacted immediately.

Propylene Glycol oxidizes when exposed to air and heat. When this occurs, organic acids are formed viz. Glycolic acid, Glyoxalic acid, Formic acid, Carbonic acid & Oxalic acid. If not properly inhibited, this fluid can be very corrosive. Protodin is added to Propylene Glycol to act as a buffer, preventing low pH attack on the system metals. It forms a protective skin inside the tank and pipelines which helps to prevent acid attack that cause corrosion.

Beside cooling system breakdown, biological fouling also occurs. Once bacterial slime starts the corrosion rate of the system increases. In system where a glycol solution is maintained on a continuous basis, regular monitoring of freeze protection, pH, specific gravity, inhibitor level, color and biological contamination should be checked on routine basis.Propylene glycol should be replaced when it turns reddish in color.

Most commercial antifreeze formulations include corrosion inhibiting compounds, and a colored dye (commonly a green, red, or blue fluorescent) to aid in identification. A 1:1 dilution with water is usually used, resulting in a freezing point in the range of -35 °C to -40 °C, depending on the formulation. In warmer or colder areas, weaker or stronger dilutions are used, respectively, but a range of 40%/60% to 60%/40% must be maintained to assure corrosion protection and optimum freezing prevention.

Glycol antifreeze solutions should generally be replaced with fresh mixture every two years.

Antifreeze is used in internal combustion engines, and for many other heat transfer applications, such as electronics cooling and chillers for HVAC. Compounds are added to water to reduce the freezing point of the mixture to below the lowest temperature that the system is likely to be exposed to, and to inhibit corrosion in cooling systems which often contain a range of electrochemically incompatible metals (aluminum, cast iron, copper, lead solder, etc.). The term 'colligative agent' is to be preferred as, in warm climates, the benefit of these compounds is to increase the boiling point of the coolant, which should then be more properly referred to as 'anti-boil', and as anti-freeze decreases and increases both properties, respectively, 'colligative agent' more accurately describes the liquid. The term 'engine coolant' is widely used in industry.

How does antifreeze differ from engine coolant?
Engine coolant is a generic term used to describe fluids that remove heat from an engine. Antifreeze is a more specific term used to describe products used to provide protection against freezing. Many people use these terms interchangeably.

Can I add propylene glycol based antifreeze to my existing ethylene glycol based antifreeze?
Ethylene glycol and propylene glycol are chemically very similar and can be mixed without harming the cooling system. Ethylene glycol does have better heat transfer properties than propylene glycol. Adding propylene glycol does not make the ethylene glycol less toxic.

Is it true that cooling system problems are the leading cause of engine failures? Can using the right antifreeze help?
Yes, cooling system neglect is the leading cause of premature engine failure. Using the right antifreeze is only part of the solution. Poor water quality and incorrect dilution are root causes for most cooling system problems.

How often do I need to change my antifreeze?
You should always follow the vehicle or engine manufacturer's recommendations for antifreeze change intervals and cooling system maintenance.

What is the difference between ethylene glycol and propylene glycol?
Ethylene glycol and propylene glycol are chemically similar. Ethylene glycol has the chemical formula C2H6O2. Propylene has the chemical formula C3H8O2. Ethylene glycol has a slightly higher boiling point than propylene glycol. Ethylene glycol is less expensive to produce and is more widely used. Propylene glycol is less toxic.

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