Machine Design

An intelligent cooling system for your car

Engine-cooling systems for cars and trucks might be electronically controlled, but little else has changed in the overall layout since the birth of the automobile.

Engineers at Dana Corp., Toledo (, decided to add some intelligence to the cooling system and boost engine performance, fuel economy, durability, and passenger comfort, while cutting back on emissions and the overall size of the cooling system.

Traditionally, cooling systems relied on a water pump with flow dependent on engine speed, a wax thermostat, and a radiator big enough to meet rarely used peak demands. Dana’s system, dubbed Intelligent Cooling, relies on an electronic water pump, a multiport proportional flow valve to replace the thermostat, a variable-speed fan, and cylinder head gaskets containing temperature sensors. During engine warm-up, for example, the flow valve and pump act independently of the engine. They permit extremely low or even zero flow rates, which accelerates engine warm-up and minimizes heat losses. The pump and valve, as well as cooling fan and heat sinks, can also be mounted away from the engine, giving auto designers more flexibility in laying out the engine compartment. The gasket monitors temperature and has proven to have faster response to real-time thermal data than conventional cooling systems. The pump, valve, and fan can be controlled by the same unit or an Electronic Control Unit.

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