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Author Topic: Flammable engine coolant:  (Read 20631 times)
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McRat
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« on: September 29, 2008, 01:58:57 PM »

"Urgent rule change: Effective immediately, the use of any flammable engine coolant in competition Cars or Motorcycles is prohibited." - from SCTA-BNI website front page.

Anyone know if any percentage of standard anti-freeze is acceptable?  I normally run about 25% normal Dexcool to keep the waterpump seal lubed and prevent erosion/corrosion in the cooling system.  The more dilute, the less combustable it is.  Dexcool is what comes in most GM cars and trucks.
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McRat
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« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2008, 02:04:07 PM »

To play it safe, I will drain and refill with water for Oct.  But I would like to know for long term.
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« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2008, 02:33:37 PM »

The problem is that liquid flammability is highly dependent on the test conditions used to measure it.

A fluid that is very difficult to ignite as a liquid pool by briefly exposing it to a naked flame can burn vigorously if in the form of a fine spray mist.

For that rule to have any value, it will need to specify how they are to determine if the coolant is flammable.

1. do you depend on the MSDS sheet NFPA rating for the undiluted coolant?
2. is there a field test they will accept to demonstrate it is not flammable?


Each product should include in the MSDS sheet an NFPA 704 Hazard Identification ratings system rating.
What do the numbers and symbols on an NFPA fire diamond mean?

The diamond is broken into four sections. Numbers in the three colored sections range from 0 (least severe hazard) to 4 (most severe hazard). The fourth (white) section is left blank and is used only to denote special fire fighting measures/hazards.

For the flammability ratings the numbers correspond to:
4   Will rapidly or completely vaporize at normal pressure and temperature, or is readily dispersed in air and will burn readily.
3   Liquids and solids that can be ignited under almost all ambient conditions.
2   Must be moderately heated or exposed to relatively high temperature before ignition can occur.
1   Must be preheated before ignition can occur.
0   Materials that will not burn.

Which threshold does SCTA consider "flammable" for the purposes of their ruling?

Likewise as you mention when diluted with water, normally flammable liquids lose much of their ability to ignite, but even at high dilutions, if exposed to heat long enough to drive off the water as in a mist exposed to naked flame, you are back to the flammability of the undiluted material. Common windshield washing liquid is an example, it is very difficult to ignite as it comes out of the bottle but if introduced to a well developed fire it will burn off the alcohol portion of the liquid as the spray evaporates.

Ethylene glycol has a flash point of 232 deg F so if preheated to that temp it becomes flammable in the context of an escaping spray of coolant into an engine fire environment.


Flash points are determined experimentally by heating the liquid in a container and then introducing a small flame just above the liquid surface. The temperature at which there is a flash/ignition is recorded as the flash point.

Two general methods are called closed-cup and open-cup. The closed-cup method prevents vapors from escaping and therefore usually results in a flash point that is a few degrees lower than in an open cup. Because the two methods give different results, one must always list the testing method when listing the flash point. Example: 110 oC (closed cup).

=================
OSHA's 29 CFR 1910.106 standard discusses the methods in some detail:

      (a)(14) "Flash point" means the minimum temperature at which a liquid gives off vapor within a test vessel in sufficient concentration to form an ignitable mixture with air near the surface of the liquid, and shall be determined as follows:

      (a)(14)(i) For a liquid which has a viscosity of less than 45 SUS at 100 deg. F. (37.8 deg. C.), does not contain suspended solids, and does not have a tendency to form a surface film while under test, the procedure specified in the Standard Method of Test for Flash point by Tag Closed Tester (ASTM D-56-70), which is incorporated by reference as specified in Sec. 1910.6, shall be used.

      (a)(14)(ii) For a liquid which has a viscosity of 45 SUS or more at 100 deg. F. (37.8 deg. C.), or contains suspended solids, or has a tendency to form a surface film while under test, the Standard Method of Test for Flash point by Pensky-Martens Closed Tester (ASTM D-93-71) shall be used, except that the methods specified in Note 1 to section 1.1 of ASTM D-93-71 may be used for the respective materials specified in the Note. The preceding ASTM standards are incorporated by reference as specified in Sec. 1910.6.

      (a)(14)(iii) For a liquid that is a mixture of compounds that have different volatilities and flash points, its flash point shall be determined by using the procedure specified in paragraph (a)(14) (i) or (ii) of this section on the liquid in the form it is shipped. If the flash point, as determined by this test, is 100 deg. F. (37.8 deg. C.) or higher, an additional flash point determination shall be run on a sample of the liquid evaporated to 90 percent of its original volume, and the lower value of the two tests shall be considered the flash point of the material.

      (a)(14)(iv) Organic peroxides, which undergo auto accelerating thermal decomposition, are excluded from any of the flash point determination methods specified in this subparagraph.
===================


I suspect the best option would be to use only water, or possibly water + water wetter.
That of course raises issues of preventing freezing during cold desert nights. You might want to bring an old blanket to toss over the radiator/hood at night to minimize radiant cooling and risk of freezing if there is a brisk night. Or you could install a block heater and warm the block just before you leave the salt for the night.


MSDS sheet for water wetter --- flash point >300 deg F
http://www.redlineoil.com.au/Uploads/Downloads/MSDS%20WaterWetter%20Euro%207_01.pdf

MSDS sheet for ethylene glycol --- flash point 231.8 deg F
autoignition temperature 748.4 deg F
http://www.sciencelab.com/xMSDS-Ethylene_glycol-9927167

MSDS sheet for Evans NPG --- flash point 225 deg F
http://www.evanscooling.com/download/Evans%20MSDS%20NPG.pdf

All three of the above have an NFPA flammability rating of 1


Larry
« Last Edit: September 29, 2008, 02:47:29 PM by hotrod » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2008, 03:52:59 PM »

I too would like to know if regular antifreeze will not be allowed (Prestone type). It has been known to get below freezing at night on the salt in October.
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« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2008, 03:55:29 PM »

Larry! Nice job as usual.

The key point is:
Quote
the use of ANY flammable engine coolant in competition Cars or Motorcycles is prohibited.

Emphasis by me. If the MSDS has a flammability rating you can't use it in any quantity no matter what the dilution.

What is the test? There isn't one. This is one of those "AHA" moments where nobody realized this problem could exist.

Could you go ahead and use Evan's coolant? I don't think there is anything stopping you other than the fact that if you had a fire you would probably be banned for life.

I think you have to use your own judgement until or if SCTA documents what the guidelines or rules or going to be.

If freezing is a problem then you better buy a heater.
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« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2008, 04:07:52 PM »

take a look at the scta-bni.org  website ----me    i run a air cooled motor-----willie buchta

i didnt read the first post-----------woops
« Last Edit: September 29, 2008, 04:09:42 PM by willieworld » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2008, 04:09:15 PM »

Dean, Evans coolant is already banned from SCTA, it's on the web site. As far as others there is no word at this time. Don't forget it freezes at El Mirage as well.
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« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2008, 04:44:19 PM »

Did a little Googling while waiting for parts...

http://www.jcmmachine.com/engine_coolant.htm
A "Vehicular Forensic Reconstruction Specialist" looks at antifreeze flammability.

A few returns from Googling "antifreeze msds":

Haveline Dex-Cool, flammability:  1
http://www.havoline.com/images/products/pdfs/anti_exlife.pdf

Preston LoTox Antifreeze,  flammability:  “Heat from fire may generate
flammable vapor. Fine sprays or mists may be combustible at
temperatures below the normal flash point.”

http://www.shamrockchicago.com/MSDSPrestLTAf.html

Clearchoice Antifreeze, flammability: 0 (with ~50% Ethylene Glycol??
http://www.clearchoiceantifreeze.com/pdf/MSDS-premix.pdf

Prestone Premix Antifreeze, flammability: undetermined
http://www.stonergroup.com/msds/Prestone/Quick_Fill_Anti-freeze.pdf

There's a bunch more if someone wants to study the subject.

Mike
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« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2008, 04:52:16 PM »

All rules are made because someone paid the price. That's where this web site plays an important part in getting the word out. Lessons learned and how to make the rules or changes safer for everyone. Fire wall construction to the cockpit area is critical and needs good engineering. This will be discussed a lot and I am sure changes will be made.
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« Reply #9 on: September 29, 2008, 04:55:02 PM »

Here's a post I made earlier on another thread. Quote:

Evans Cooling Systems site: http://www.evanscooling.com/index2.html

Quoting from http://www.evanscooling.com/main20.htm :

Question: When should NPG+ be used instead of NPG?
Answer: NPG+ is preferred to NPG in all cases except where the ingredient ethylene glycol is specifically prohibited (e.g., use at certain race tracks).

Quoting from the Wikipedia entry for Ethylene glycol, at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethylene_glycol :

"The major use of ethylene glycol is as an antifreeze in, for example, automobiles and personal computers. Due to its low freezing point, it is also used as a deicing fluid for windshields and aircraft. Ethylene glycol is also commonly used in chilled water air conditioning systems that place either the chiller or air handlers outside, or systems that must cool below the freezing temperature of water."

"Ethylene glycol was first prepared in 1859 by the French chemist Charles-Adolphe Wurtz. It was produced on a small scale during World War I as a coolant and as an ingredient in explosives."

"The electrolysis of ethylene glycol solutions with a silver anode results in an exothermic reaction. In the Apollo 1 fire catastrophe a coolant consisting of ethylene glycol and water was implicated as a possible cause via this reaction."

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« Reply #10 on: September 29, 2008, 05:02:28 PM »

Here is a suggestion for a simple test and basis for allowing low concentrations of ethylene glycol antifreeze and water wetter mixtures.

First the rational. If you look at the problem from a "fire load" point of view there is a fundamental difference between something like Evans NPG and common antifreeze mixtures, or water and a few ounces of water wetter.

If you fully vent your cooling system, into the engine compartment lets look at what happens with the different setups. If you dump 12 quarts of NPG coolant into a fire you have added 12 quarts of fuel to the fire. If you are running a 25% mixture of ethylene glycol and you vent that same 12 quarts of coolant you have added only 3 quarts of fuel to the fire and you have also dumped 9 quarts of fire suppressing water into the fire. If you are running 3 ounces of water wetter in your cooling system and vent it you have added only 3 ounces of combustible fuel to the fire. In the case of the water wetter you have essentially no fuel and all water.

With that in mind, a simple test would be to use an antifreeze tester and check the freezing level of the coolant mixture. According to the antifreeze protection charts, a mixture of 3 gallons of ethylene glycol in 12 quarts of coolant (at 25% mixture) will protect against freezing down to 10 deg F.

SCTA could simply by rule specify that they consider any ethylene glycol mixture below 25 % (testing a freeze protection of 10 F or higher ) as meeting the intent of a non-flammable coolant. Likewise water wetter at normal concentrations could be also allowed by rule on the same basis, that the intent of the rule is to ensure the fire load is low enough that the mandated fire suppression systems can handle the fire.

This would require a $1.89 antifreeze tester to verify and anyone could confirm at any time that they meet the rule standard without risking freeze or corrosion damage to their engines.




Larry
« Last Edit: September 29, 2008, 05:07:55 PM by hotrod » Logged

dwarner
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« Reply #11 on: September 29, 2008, 08:38:40 PM »

"SCTA could simply by rule specify that..."

How about ONLY water be used? The bulletin has left some room for the use of water wetter type products.

At some point a participant must take some responsibility for their own safety. I suggest that everyone read the first two section on page 6 of the 2008 rulebook.

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« Reply #12 on: September 29, 2008, 09:19:21 PM »

Water added to a fire is not always your friend.  Aerosol mist water will change the flame characteristics and may add to the fire rater than quench it.  see: Burning velocities and flammability limits of gaseous mixtures at elevated temperatures and pressures http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=3634934

The creation of steam from a liquid will increase the atmosphere pressure and force the atmosphere into semi sealed compartments.

Steam with out flame will severely burn.

I am revising my through firewall passages.

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« Reply #13 on: September 29, 2008, 09:28:33 PM »



At some point a participant must take some responsibility for their own safety. I suggest that everyone read the first two section on page 6 of the 2008 rulebook.

DW

It cant get clearer than that.
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« Reply #14 on: September 30, 2008, 12:03:23 PM »

In regards to the freezing temperatures that might occur at a late-season meet:  Yes, the temps may get below freezing.  But will the temperatures get so low that the engine block and other coolant-filled ancillary systems actually freeze (whether they suffer damage or just are blocked by ice)?  It takes time for the water to turn solid, and if the temperature is only a degree or three or five below freezing -- it's pretty likely that nothing would happen.    What's the heat of fusion of water -- the amount of heat that has to be removed from the 32F water to make it 32F ice?  Quite a bit -- so it's pretty likely that nobody will get ice in the system if temps get to say, 28F overnight after being in the 50's during the day.

I don't think there's a big need to have some antifreeze in your cooling system if your reasoning is to prevent damage from freezing.  Not at any race event we're likely to attend, anyway. . .
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