Antifreeze ('Tis the Season)

ATRI News - March/April 2014

Antifreeze is an additive that is used to, as the name suggests, prevent water-based liquids from freezing.  Mixtures available commercially are also referred to as antifreeze.  These mixtures are what recyclers are familiar with – what is recovered from vehicles.  Distilled water is used in the cooling systems of internal combustion engines because water alone is a good coolant.  Extreme weather conditions, however, make the addition of antifreeze necessary to prevent engine damage caused by expansion when coolant water freezes.  Interestingly, antifreeze additives not only decrease the freezing-point, but also increase the boiling-point.  This property allows for the coolant water to be effective at both lower and higher temperatures.  A number of different alcohols are used as additives including methanol, ethylene glycol, propylene glycol, and glycerol.  Ethylene glycol is most commonly used in automotive antifreeze.

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