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How does Antifreeze Work?

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Antifreeze is a liquid added to the cooling system of an automobile to ensure that the water within it does not freeze solid. The functioning of antifreeze is based on the observation that the freezing temperature of a liquid is lowered when something is dissolved in it. This something can be either a solid or a liquid. This phenomenon was originally discovered by the French scientist Francois Raoult in the late 19th century. Raoult also discovered that the degree to which the freezing point is lowered is linearly related to the number of molecules dissolved in the liquid. The decrease of freezing point in diluted solutions can be explained as follows. As the temperature of the liquid decreases, the molecules making it up move more slowly and experience an attractive force between each other. In pure water, at 32°F (0°C), this attractive force is powerful enough to arrange the water molecules in a regular crystal pattern, greatly decreasing their mobility and causing the formation of ... more
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Antifreeze is a liquid added to the cooling system of an automobile to ensure that the water within it does not freeze solid. The functioning of antifreeze is based on the observation that the freezing temperature of a liquid is lowered when something is dissolved in it. This something can be either a solid or a liquid. This phenomenon was originally discovered by the French scientist Francois Raoult in the late 19th century. Raoult also discovered that the degree to which the freezing point is lowered is linearly related to the number of molecules dissolved in the liquid. Added: Roc D, when you take something from a web page, at least give them credit. more
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If you had just regular water as engine coolant, it would boil at 100 degrees celcius, and freeze at 0. By mixing with glycol, (antifreeze), it raises the boiling point and lowers the freezing point enough to remain liquid under all conditions. Modern engine coolant also contains lubricants and anti-corrosive agents that lubricate the water pump bearings and help keep the radiator from rusting. Also, it helps maintain a regular ph balance in the cooling system. more
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Anti-freeze for the most part is a chemical compound w/ a methanol base. High boiling point and a low freezing point. In extreme climates like the Northern Plains of the US where temperatures vary so much during the year, it's probably best to use pure coolant / antifreeze w/ no water at all. So this is why and how it works...high boiling point, and a very low freezing point. Water by itself doesn't work, b/c it boils at 212F and freezes at 32F...not good for winter, and not good for cooling engine. more
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