Glysantin® protects against rust, frost and frustration

January 17, 2005 by  

The eternal icy wastes of the polar oceans seem a very inhospitable environment. Yet beneath the thick covering of snow and ice all kinds of creatures thrive, obviously immune to the sub-zero temperatures. One of them is the Antarctic ice fish (Trematomus bernacchii). During the course of its evolution, this fish has developed its own antifreeze system. It has “antifreeze glycoproteins” in its blood which prevent the molecules of water agglomerating to form ice crystals which would cause the cells to burst and disable the fish’s circulation.

During the cold seasons of the year, the technical organism of an automobile also faces very similar problems, because the water flowing through its cooling system tends to solidify into ice at winter temperatures. At the worst, the expanding ice will crack the radiator and engine block, resulting in a total write-off; the frost has done its dire work. A good reason, one might think, to look around for a different coolant. But ordinary water has properties that are simply unsurpassed: it can absorb extremely large amounts of heat and remove it from the engine, and it is cheap and readily available. If only there wasn’t the risk of the radiator bursting.

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Yet what evolution did for the ice fish by equipping it with its own superb antifreeze system, chemists at BASF developed as long as 75 years ago for the automobile engine: the branded antifreeze Glysantin®. With the right mixture of Glysantin® and water, an automobile cooling system can even withstand temperatures up to -40C (-40F). Even in summer, the main component of Glysantin®, the divalent alcohol ethylene glycol, safeguards against engine failure. This is because it not only lowers the freezing point of water, but also raises its boiling point and thereby prevents radiators boiling over.

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If this BASF product were only one of the many ethylene glycol based anti-freezes currently available, this would be the end of the story. “Protecting engines against frost and overheating are two tasks performed by Glysantin®, but its also has a third: preventing corrosion”, explains Ladislaus Meszaros, who is responsible within BASF’s Performance Chemicals Division for worldwide development and applications technology in the automotive sector. “It is this threefold action that distinguishes an all-round coolant, because the water in the cooling system combined with the high operating temperatures promotes corrosion”, continues Meszaros. “Without protection, the rust soon eats its way through the metal walls of the radiator.”

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However, help is at hand in the form of the special corrosion inhibitors that make Glysantin® Europe’s best-selling antifreeze. BASF’s experts are constantly engaged in modifying these additives to meet the increasingly exacting demands of modern automobile engines.

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With success, as demonstrated not least by the seal of quality ‘Highly Recommended’ of DEKRA, the international testing and certification service, which has been awarded repeatedly to Glysantin® every year since 1996 when it was first issued. “We really put antifreeze agents through their paces”, says Martti Haas, Environmental and Product Analyst of DEKRA Umwelt GmbH in Stuttgart. “This includes performing extensive corrosion tests at very high temperatures and different pressures, evaluating environmental compatibility and even design of the packaging”. An antifreeze only receives the highest test seal, emphasizes Haas, if – like Glysantin® – it gets top marks in all categories.


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