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Honeycomb Radiator 120 Years Ago Led to High Performance Engines of Today

Auto News - Published on Mon, 21 Sep 2020

Image Source: Honeycomb Radiator Mercedes Benz
Effective cooling of the combustion engine was, and still is, a prerequisite for producing powerful engine output. The first vehicles after the invention of the car by Carl Benz in 1886 did not have a closed cooling circuit. Instead, the cooling water heated by the engine just evaporated. Refilling the water supply was part of the motoring experience but, as engine power increased, it was no longer a practical solution.

Vehicle designer Wilhelm Maybach was the first to demonstrate this fact 120 years ago. On 20 September 1900, he took out a patent for the honeycomb radiator design: as the car moved, the airstream was forced through a multitude of tubes mounted side-by-side, similar to a honeycomb when viewed from the front, which efficiently cooled the cooling water, that had been heated by the combustion action in the engine, as it passed through the radiator. The tubes were made of brass because that alloy of copper and zinc has very good thermal conductivity. The new cooling system was first used in September 1898 in the world's first road vehicle with a four-cylinder engine: the engine of the "Phoenix" horseless carriage initially developed 5.8 kW 8 hp from a 2.1-litre engine.

On 20 September 1900, Maybach applied for a patent for the honeycomb radiator design as a cooling and condensation device based on the cross-flow principle. From 8 August 1901, German Reich Patent number 122 766 came into force to protect the invention, which was a further development of the tube-based radiator. Wilhelm Maybach had a new type of radiator soldered, made up of 8,070 square tubes measuring six by six millimetres in cross-section. The increased inner surface area of the square tubes in comparison to round tubes, combined with the smaller gaps between the individual tubes, increased the cooling effect considerably and made significantly higher engine performance possible

Compared to the Phoenix horseless carriage from 1898, the water consumption in the new 26 kW (35 hp) Mercedes engine from 1900 was reduced by half, from 18 litres to nine per 100 kilometres. In other words: for each horsepower, rather than requiring 2.25 litres of water for cooling purposes, only 0.26 litres was needed over that distance. A small fan located behind the radiator additionally improved the cooling effect at low speed. In this way, the new high-performance radiator solved the car cooling problem permanently

Première The honeycomb radiator found its first practical application in the Mercedes 35 hp, the epoch-making new high-performance car manufactured by Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft. After the long-legged early motorised, horseless carriages, the design of this, the first modern car in history was trend-setting and triggered a landslide design change: the elongated silhouette, high engine output, honeycomb radiator, low bonnet, long wheelbase, a gear-change gate, inclined steering column, equally sized wheels on both axles and low weight were pioneering core features.

The vehicle design of the Mercedes 35 hp was defined to a large extent by the radiator that presented itself to the airstream, which was copied by many manufacturers. Form follows function and so the high-performance radiator became a central characteristic of the modern car. What's more: that distinctive heat exchanger at the front of the vehicle became a defining stylistic element for the Stuttgart car manufacturer over the decades, and the front grille remains so today.

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Posted By : Yogender Pancholi on Mon, 21 Sep 2020
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