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The all-electric water pump

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There was a time when the nearest any electrical signal could get anywhere close to an internal combustion engine was in the condenser to the ignition system. Discharging an electrical pulse through the ‘points’ of the mechanical distributor to fire the spark was about as much electrical energy as one needed but, of course, times have changed. In my view the rot set in with the invention of the silicon chip and its application to electronic fuel injection. Since then, electronic...

The structural intercooler

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The turbocharger intercooler may have many performance benefits but almost without exception its installation in the vehicle is rarely without considerable compromise. The unit is either mounted close to the power unit, keeping air intake hose lengths and hence intake air volumes short, or it is positioned somewhere outside the engine bay, around the periphery of the vehicle where the flow of cool air required is more plentiful. Mounting it near the engine gives acceptable throttle...

Radiator fan installation

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In life there are many instances where we have to make decisions based on insufficient information or experience. I mention this because in applications where we have rotating axial flow fluid movers – a cooling fan, for instance – there are times when we as engineers do not have enough data, and decisions have to be made quickly as to the effectiveness of the design or installation. These decisions may not be potentially calamitous or affect the lives of many innocent people,...

The air apparent

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When I was young (TV shows in black-and-white only, and so on) vehicle radiators were much taller than they were wide. Designed to make maximum use of a natural phenomenon called the ‘thermo-syphon effect’, when the coolant was introduced into the top of the radiator it proceeded to fall to the bottom as it cooled, only to be replaced by more hot fluid from the engine. The advantage of the tall radiator maximised this effect and at the same time, being raised above the engine,...

The exhaust heat exchanger

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As a power unit engineer intent on extracting the maximum amount of power and fuel efficiency from a given volume of fossil fuel, without wishing to contradict Newton’s Second Law of Thermodynamics, the fact that any heat rejected is an admission of personal failure. In thermodynamic-speak, ‘heat’ equates to ‘work’, and in rejecting it to the coolant or exhaust gas the opportunity for more ‘work’ (and for that substitute ‘power’) is lost....