Ever since cars began appearing on our roads over a century ago, heat dissipation has been a crucial problem that all automobile manufacturers have tried to tackle. An automobile engine produces enough heat to burn itself out. Unless this heat finds a proper outlet, the engine will be severely damaged.
Automotive radiators have been instrumental in keeping the heat produced under control. These relatively simple devices have a complex function to perform under the hood of the car. In simple terms, a radiator is a device that dissipates heat through radiation. All automotive radiators, whether in cars, trucks, buses and tractors, use the same principle while functioning. The liquid coolant that passes through the engine absorbs all the heat produced, keeping the engine temperature under control. However, this coolant needs to be cooled off in order to repetitively perform the same function. That is where the radiator comes into the picture. An automotive radiator is made of an aluminum tube, bent several times to form a rectangle. These multiple folds increase the internal surface area of the radiator and hence enhance the cooling. As the coolant passes through the radiator, the heat is absorbed by the aluminum body and dissipated into the cool air blowing surrounding it. Very often, an electric fan blows cold air into the radiator to expedite the cooling process.
Automotive radiators have evolved in design and efficiency over the years. The first radiators were a simple network of round brass or copper tubes with water flowing through them. Later, fans were added to the kit to enhance the cooling effect. Anti-freezing chemicals such as ethylene glycol were added to prevent engine damage during winter months. Further evolution included the usage of broader tubes and finally the use of aluminum, as we see today.
The radiator is an indispensable part of an automobile. It can be safely said that automotive radiators have had a lasting impact on technology and will continue to do so as long as combustion engines exist.