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Antifreeze - Ethylene Glycol vs. Propylene Glycol

Comparing ethylene glycol and propylene glycol antifreeze properties.

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Characteristics of ethylene glycol and propylene glycol as antifreeze:

PropertyEthylene GlycolPropylene GlycolComments
Freeze point depression more effective less effective More antifreeze is needed of propylene glycol to achieve the same freeze point
Heat transfer efficiency/capability better less Ethylene glycol has superior heat transfer efficiency due to lower viscosity - but more fluid must be circulated to transfer the same amount of energy since Propylene glycol has higher specific heat.
Viscosity lower higher Propylene glycol increases major head loss in the systems. Pumps head increased.
Flammability low low
Chemical oxygen demand low higher  
Biodegrading degrades in 10 - 30 days needs more than 20 - 30 days to degrade
Carcinogenic no no A carcinogen is any substance or agent that promotes cancer
Toxic High level of acute when taken orally, targets the kidneys Lower level of acute Ethylene glycol should never be used in any drinking water or food processing system
Skin irritant low low Propylene glycol is used in small amounts in cosmetics
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  • Engineering ToolBox, (2005). Antifreeze - Ethylene Glycol vs. Propylene Glycol. [online] Available at: [Accessed Day Mo. Year].

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