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Easy Science Project for Car Lovers!

Aug 17, 2007
Will environmentally friendly anti-freeze work as well in your car as commercial products?

Most automobile engines require water to control their temperatures from getting too hot as they run. Way back when, this was difficult because a car's engine runs at a temperature that is greater than the boiling point of water. So if water was put into a hot engine it simply boiled off and had to be replenished with constant stops to re-supply. The invention of the radiator partially cured this problem as the water was kept under pressure which raised its boiling point and kept it from boiling away. But cars continued to have difficulties with over heating even with the radiator.

Autos also had problems when it becomes very cold out. Instead of boiling away, the water froze inside the engine. When water freezes it expands and takes up more space. Years ago, cars had freeze plugs put into them that popped out when the water froze to protect the engine from cracking under the pressure of expansion.

Modern antifreeze additives solved the problems of overheating and freezing. There are many additives that will alter the boiling and freezing point of water, simple table salt will affect these points. Antifreeze solutions have a greater affect on the boiling and freezing point but they come at a price. Most modern antifreezes are not environmentally safe and must be disposed of as a hazardous waste. In recent years a number of environmentally friendly antifreeze products have come on the market.

This investigation will compare their effectiveness compared to traditional antifreeze products. To do this science experiment, you will need some non-diluted environmentally friendly anti-freeze. You will also need some commercial non-diluted anti-freeze. In addition you will require a thermometer, an outdoor stove or burner, and a freezer with temperature controls.

Start your experiment by taking 500ml of pure water. Put it on the stove and bring to boil. Record this temperature, it will be your boiling control group. Be sure to do this outside as antifreeze will produce unwanted odor in house.

Now put in 5ml of traditional antifreeze into 500ml of water (recheck water level each time as some will boil off). Boil this solution and record temperature. Repeat this step using environmentally friendly antifreeze.

Next repeat previous steps using 10ml of antifreeze in 500ml and record your boiling points. Continue this process through 25ml of antifreeze concentrations.

When you have collected your boiling point data repeat the process varying the concentrations of antifreeze but now freeze them instead of boiling them. Start with pure water. Set your freezer to 310 and put thermometer in water. Check periodically, record temperature when ice first starts to form, do not let water freeze completely. Then put in your 5ml concentrations and put back in freezer. If solutions do not freeze set your freezer at a colder temperature and record temperature when ice first appears. Continue this process through your 25ml solutions.

This is a great science fair experiment for those interested in cars, the environment or both.
About the Author
Mort Barish is co-founder of Terimore Institute, Inc. Terimore provides hundreds of science fair projects with step-by-step guides for children in grades K-12 to help them successfully compete in science fairs. Find fun, easy and award-winning science fair projects at www.terimore.com!
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