The Transportation industry is one of the leading emitters of greenhouse gasses and this is why the government is setting goals for them to reach on fuel efficiency, because the less fuel used is less harm on the environment. One of the big impacted on fuel consumption though is efficiency of each individual subsystem within the vehicle. One of these subsystems is the cooling system and it is commonly overlooked in the realm of efficiency, and it has a large impact on the overall emissions of the vehicle. One of the primary ways a vehicles cooling system is hindered is the effects of fouling. In a vehicles cooling system the primary fouling concern is inorganic fouling or fouling that is caused by particles of any kind building up in the cooling passages all throughout the engine block and radiator. Internal combustion engines are designed to run at a specific range of temperatures that produce the optimal efficiency of power. When the radiator isn’t working at full efficiency then it leads to issues in engine efficiency that directly impact the environment.
Fouling within the radiator leads to insufficient cooling, and internal combustion engines are extremely susceptible to inefficiency due to change in temperature. Internal combustion engines are designed to operate within a very specific range of temperatures in order to produce the maximum amount of power per fuel molecule. Higher or lower than that range and the engine will often require more fuel input in order to produce enough power for normal operation. More fuel input typically leads to a condition called rich which means the air to fuel ratio is lower than stoichiometric (14.7:1). The problem with an engine running rich is that it produces more of several environmentally harmful gases. Rich running engines often produce higher amounts of unburned hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and other harmful particulate matter. Many of these emission contribute to greenhouse gases which have been clearly linked to climate change.
If the cooling system is not working well due to fouling restricting flow through a radiator then the vehicle will tend to overheat. Overheating, which tends to lead to higher Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) emissions which are not only harmful to the environment but also harmful to humans respiratory systems. Nitrogen Oxide emissions have been shown to harm vegetation and can lead to plants having a higher susceptibility to damage due to temperature drops and disease. Nitrogen Oxides have also been shown to combine with other airborne pollutants and react with sunlight to form ozone. Ozone (O3) is a toxic gas that is colorless but has a strong stench and also has been shown to be extremely harmful to humans respiratory systems.
It can now be easily linked between the diminishing effectiveness of a heat exchanger due to fouling and a negative impact on the environment. These harmful side effects come from something as simple as fouling showing the importance of taking account of everything when designing a part or system or else the impacts could stretch much further than initially expected.
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