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Old 05-23-2012, 06:45 PM
L&B L&B is offline
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Fun with coolant chemistry at home

Here's a fun experiment - or set of experiments - anyone can do at home, as long as they don't mind the "what are you doing now" line of questions it's sure to elicit.

The premise here is to test a theory which has been posted previously. We modify the concentration and change other things to compress what normally requires 5 years or so of engine operation into about 5 days; and make it so that it can be done by essentially anyone. I've done the experiment with pure reagent-grade chemicals, as well as some commercial products, but won't talk about that yet since I don't want to spoil the fun for everyone else.

First, go to the local thrift shop or hardware store, and buy a cheap electric burner or hot plate (unless you already have something suitable for this purpose in your garage). You'll also need a small pan or other container with a tight-fitting lid, some of whatever antifreeze concentrate you're interested in, or pure ethylene glycol, and a thermometer.

You're also going to want some borax (sodium tetraborate) or boric acid. Over time and use, the borax in G-05 coolant is converted to boric acid. To do this at home, start with 20 Mule Team Borax Laundry Booster. Put a tablespoon or two in your pot with a cup or two of white vinegar, (or muriatic acid for your swimming pool, or phosphoric acid etc; use a lot less of these) and bring it to a boil; stir until it's all dissolved. Now let it cool, and if desired test the pH (you do have to do this with some coolants in actual use, so may already have the test strips). pH should be 5.8 or below; if above 7 you've not used enough vinegar. Now place your pan in a shallow container with some ice water, and leave it for about half an hour. A nice crop of boric acid crystals will form; run this through a coffee filter and allow to dry; the acid used to effect the conversion remains in the solution. You could also just buy some boric acid; usually sold as Roach Prufe brand powder, or in various other insect killer products.

Clean out your pot, and add some of your favorite coolant concentrate - the more different types people test, the more information we'll have. It will still work with the 50:50 diluted, just take a lot longer. Dump your boric acid in; the ideal stoichiometry would be about two parts of boric acid to three parts glycol, which is about 8X more concentrated than in G-05. It will still work in more diluted form, but the idea here is to speed up the process so that we get to see the product in a reasonable amount of time.

Put the lid on the pot, and set the heat source so that your coolant concentrate sample is around 200F. It doesn't matter if it boils a little, but we don't want it to evaporate the glycol - keep that stuff in there. Come back and check on it in a few days, it should be done in less than a week. Coolants with higher nitrite levels should take longer. I'd be really interested in seeing what people get with different brands of coolant concentrate.

Does it look like anything you've seen before?

Let's see what you get!
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