Loughborough University
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Gas in engine cooling systems: occurrence, effects and mitigation

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posted on 2013-02-21, 08:45 authored by Peter Woollen
The presence of gas in engine liquid cooling systems can have severe consequences for engine efficiency and life. The presence of stagnant, trapped gases will result in cooling system hotspots, causing gallery wall degradation through thermal stresses, fatigue and eventual cracking. The presence of entrained, transient gases in the coolant flow will act to reduce its bulk thermal properties and the performance of the system s coolant pump; critically the liquid flow rate, which will severely affect heat transfer throughout the engine and its ancillaries. The hold-up of gas in the pump s impeller may cause the dynamic seal to run dry, without lubrication or cooling. This poses both an immediate failure threat should the seal overheat and rubber components melt and a long term failure threat from intermittent quench cooling, which causes deposit formation on sealing faces acting to abrade and reduce seal quality. Bubbles in the coolant flow will also act as nucleation sites for cavitation growth. This will reduce the Net Positive Suction Head available (NPSHA) in the coolant flow, exacerbating cavitation and its damaging effects in locations such as the cylinder cooling liners and the pump s impeller. This thesis has analysed the occurrence of trapped gas (air) during the coolant filling process, its behaviour and break-up at engine start, the two-phase character of the coolant flow these processes generate and the effects it has on coolant pump performance. Optical and parametric data has been acquired in each of these studies, providing an understanding of the physical processes occurring, key variables and a means of validating numerical (CFD) code of integral processes. From the fundamental understanding each study has provided design rules, guidelines and validated tools have been developed, helping cooling system designers minimise the occurrence of trapped air during coolant filling, promote its breakup at engine start and to minimise its negative effects in the centrifugal coolant pump. It was concluded that whilst ideally the prevention of cooling system gases should be achieved at source, they are often unavoidable. This is due to the cost implications of finding a cylinder head gasket capable of completely sealing in-cylinder combustion pressures, the regular use of nucleate boiling regimes for engine cooling and the need to design cooling channel geometries to cool engine components and not necessarily to avoid fill entrapped air. Using the provided rules and models, it may be ensured stagnant air is minimised at source and avoided whilst an engine is running. However, to abate the effects of entrained gases in the coolant pump through redesign is undesirable due to the negative effects such changes have on a pump s efficiency and cavitation characteristics. It was concluded that the best solution to entrained gases, unavoidable at source, is to remove them from the coolant flow entirely using phase separation device(s).



  • Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering


© P.R.Woollen

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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  • en