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Airtight Engine Bay

Move Radiator outside
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This idea isn't so much about cleaning a car, but rather keeping (part of) it from getting dirty -- namely, the car's engine bay.

I suggest that the majority of the dirt that gets into a car's engine compartment, comes in with the air that's brought to cool the radiator... dirt generated by whatever cars you drive behind (dust and asphalt from the road, brake dust, engine exhaust particles, etc.).

If that is the only source of dirt, we could design a car in which the radiator isn't in the engine bay, and the air which has passed through it was directed out of the vehicle, instead of into the engine compartment.

Furthermore, if air for the engine were brought in through some dedicated route from outside the vehicle, we could make the engine bay completely airtight and watertight, which would not only eliminate any external sources of dirt, but make the vehicle better able to drive through water (streams, flooded roads).

I'm assuming, of course, that all of the engine's waste heat can be dissipated through the radiator... if this isn't the case, then a fully sealed engine bay wouldn't work.

goldbb, Aug 03 2010

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       If the engine components cannot loose energy to the atmosphere directly then the job of the radiator is increased dramatically. Every part of the engine gets hot in operation and the entire design benefits from the efficiency of ambient air and radiant cooling. Eliminate these and every component on the engine will now need coolant passages, including the alternator. Yes a large radiator could cool the entire engine and components but it would certainty be heavier and more expensive.
WcW, Aug 03 2010
  

       Is engine dirt bad? (Serious question.)
Another question, equally naive: Would this allow you to abolish the exhaust manifold (i.e. use the engine compartment for that purpose)?
mouseposture, Aug 04 2010
  

       This already happens with boats and amphibious vehicles, doesn't it?
Grogster, Aug 04 2010
  

       I don't know if this is the solution, but there's definitely the problem. Old school engines you could wash, and if they got cranky you just dried out the electricals. With today's computer controlled beasts, I am unwilling to wash off the engine dust.
normzone, Aug 04 2010
  

       [+] but now a fluids leak won't be noticed and you've the possibility of a buildup of explosive gases while parked.   

       What do the newer vehicles look like underneath ?
FlyingToaster, Aug 04 2010
  

       could a heat sink be made for a car engine?
Voice, Aug 04 2010
  

       WcW, If airflow is absolutely needed to cool the components in the engine compartment, then how about providing that air flow with some sort of filter to keep out dirt?   

       FT, A capacitance based liquid detector could be located at the bottom of the engine compartment, and automatically detect any fluid leakage.   

       An explosive gas detector could also be located in the engine compartment -- although I don't see how explosive gasses could get into the engine compartment in the first place.   

       Voice, that's what the radiator is :) But, as WcW has pointed out, it's only a heat sink for the engine, not the other components. Unless we want a mess of tubing similar to the inside of a water cooled computer, airflow remains necessary to keep those other components cool.   

       But while the radiator needs lots of airflow (and thus this air can't be efficiently supplied through a filter), I suspect that the other components need relatively little, which would allow a smaller amount of filtered air to do the task of cooling.
goldbb, Aug 04 2010
  

       dirt may simply be washed off.
WcW, Aug 05 2010
  

       // providing ... some sort of filter //   

       A filter fine enough to keep out small particulates is going to need frequent replacement and also forced airflow as it will present significant resistance.   

       [Grogster] has a good point; boats. Boats typically have an "oily bilge" under the engine; the engines themslves stay fairly clean, but the engine space itself, even with ventilation, can become unpleasantly warm - this despite the fact that the engine itself has a hul cooler.   

       The engine block is going to need to be at 75 - 90 C for efficent operation. It is maintained at this level by thermostatic control of the cooling system. In a vehicle, the engine bay temperature is considerably less due to airflow around the powerplant. If this airflow is stopped the space will equilibrate with the engine.   

       On the plus side, a sealed engine space might well reduce drag, but then the airscoops and ducting and filters will be bulky.
8th of 7, Aug 05 2010
  
      
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