SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1999

Rapid Electrochemical Screening of Engine Coolants. Correlation of Electrochemical Potentiometric Measurements with ASTM D 1384 Glassware Corrosion Test


Engine coolants are typically subjected to comprehensive performance evaluations that involve multiple laboratory and field tests. These tests can take several weeks to conduct and can be expensive. The tests can involve everything from preliminary chemical screening to long term fleet tests. An important test conducted at the beginning of coolant formula development to screen the corrosion performance of engine coolants is described in ASTM D 1384. If the coolant formula passes this test, it is then subjected to more rigorous testing. Conducting the test described in ASTM D 1384 takes two weeks, and determining the coolant corrosion performance under several test parameters can take resources and time that users seldom have. Therefore, it is very desirable to have tests that can be used for rapid screening and quality assurance of coolants.

The purpose of this study was to conduct electrochemical tests that can ultimately be used for quick initial screening of engine coolants. The specific intent of the electrochemical tests is to use ASTM D 1384 as a model and to attempt to duplicate its results. Implementation of the electrochemical tests could accelerate the process of selecting promising coolant formulas and reduce coolant evaluation time and cost.

Various electrochemical tests were conducted to determine the corrosion performance of several engine coolant formulas. The test results were compared to those obtained from the ASTM D 1384 test. These tests were conducted on the same metal specimens and under similar conditions as those used in the ASTM D 1384 test. The electrochemical tests included the determination of open circuit potential (OCP) for the various metal specimens, anodic and cathodic polarization curves for the various metal specimens, corrosion rate for metal specimens involved in a galvanic triad, and critical pitting potential (CPP) for aluminum (pitting of aluminum engine components and cooling systems is a cause for concern).

The details for the methods and the correlation of the results to ASTM D 1384 tests results will be presented.

Author Information

Doucet, GP
Shell Chemical Company, Houston
Jackson, JM
Shell Oil Products Company, Westhollow Technology Center, Houston, TX
Kriegel, OA
Shell Oil Products Company, Westhollow Technology Center, Houston, TX
Passwater, DK
Shell Oil Products Company, Westhollow Technology Center, Houston, TX
Prieto, NE
Petroferm Inc., Fernandina Beach, FL
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Developed by Committee: D15
Pages: 133–141
DOI: 10.1520/STP38243S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5566-4
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-2610-7