Vehicle Cooling As A Step Towards Sustainability 

Vehicle Cooling As A Step Towards Sustainability 

A few very significant conversations are currently occurring in the automotive industry which will impact the future of personal and commercial vehicles for years to come.  One conversation is between federal regulators and vehicle manufactures, through which the US EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is currently expanding their focus to now sweeping new emissions regulations on multiple pollutants as well as their impact on public health.  

The other conversation is between vehicle buyers and manufacturers, in which both sides are trying to figure out which current technological trends will prove commercially viable long term.  Where these two conversations meet is a bit of a quagmire: clean vehicles (especially electrical vehicles) are among the most expensive and wasteful vehicle types to produce, but are disproportionately favored and prioritized by both regulatory and popular consumer interests. 

At times it feels as if consumer marketing trends and hyped-up political fever may be leading the vehicle market in a short-sighted direction, but one thing is for sure:  no matter where the debate around clean-tech vehicles ends up in the future, there are still things that we can do to promote sustainable vehicle decisions today.    

There are an estimated 15 to 20 million large commercial vehicles operating today in the US, driving more than 300 billion miles a year.  The vast majority of these vehicles are powered by petroleum-based fuels, and so present the most accessible opportunities for making environmentally conscious decisions.  Even better, we don’t have to take any drastic actions or shell out large sums of money – we can simply work sustainable options into our normal business operations slowly, strategically.  The next time you purchase a replacement part, have the opportunity to upgrade, are seeking out local service and support, or are purchasing a new vehicle, there are small factors to keep in mind that can help select sustainability-oriented features that’ll do lots of good in the long run.    

As a manufacturer of vehicle radiator and heat exchange cooling components, we find the thermal realm to be a hotbed of opportunity for sustainable decision making.  Fuel-driven engines generate heat, and this heat has to be properly and quickly dissipated in order for the engine to perform optimally.  Poor cooling leads to poor performance, which in turn leads to higher waste (both in terms of fuel consumption and later maintenance efforts).  Further, sustainable decision making expands outside of the vehicle to many other fronts, from the design and supply chain steps involved in your vehicle’s parts, to the total lifecycle consumption required by those parts.  

To help our customers make small but meaningful contributions towards sustainable vehicle ownership, we’ll outline key features that you can look for in your next vehicle cooling component purchase.  Plus, many of these concepts can be applied to all sorts of other parts and applications.     

Sustainable Cooling Component Features

Features that promote sustainable vehicle cooling found in Cincinnati Radiator’s products include:   

  • Light Weight - cooling components that offer lighter total weights directly benefit the amount of work a vehicle engine needs to perform just to move the weight of the vehicle itself.  This equates to less fuel burned per mile, and therefore lower total emissions.  Lighter weights are usually achieved by less dense materials, smaller overall sizes, and in the case of heat exchangers, lower fluid hold-up volumes.   
  • Less Material, Same Performance – reducing mass in vehicle radiators and heat exchangers is a standard design objective by default, simply in an attempt to improve the radiator’s ability to dispel heat.  Now with sustainability in mind, reducing material mass further benefits both of these interests simultaneously.  Thanks to modern low-density metal alloys and advanced thermal transfer engineering, lower weight cooling components can match or even exceed performance standards of their legacy counterparts, while also reducing total vehicle weight which improves fuel economy.     
  • Fewer Manufacturing Steps - reducing the number of steps that it takes to manufacture a vehicle part generally helps improve efficiency in terms of energy, labor, and time.  An entire industrial engineering framework known as 'Lean Manufacturing' exists to help manufacturers identify and maximize opportunities to reduce steps and waste on their production lines.  This type of organization-wide optimization can be applied to any manufacturing workflow from actual primary production to back-office administrative tasks.
  • Fewer Procurement and Logistics Steps - in the same way that Lean Manufacturing can help reduce in-plant operational steps, a similar optimization effort can be applied to the external logistics side of the business.  Offering cooling components that are sustainable in nature means that procurement steps are minimized, which might take the form of buying direct from raw material suppliers instead of through multiple steps of distribution.  Likewise, reducing the steps it takes to get components from the manufacturer to end customers is just as beneficial.  Overall, the goal here is to provide cooling components that need less fuel, energy, emissions, and time to get through the supply chain.
  • Recyclable Materials - thinking of a component's end-of-life stage, being able to recycle materials used in the component means fewer new raw materials are needed to replace it.  This helps lessen the overall environmental impact of a single component by returning a proportion of its materials back into the supply chain for reuse. 
  • Full Lifecycle Support - supporting a cooling component for its entire lifecycle means much more than just offering a support phone number and support ticket inbox.  A component designed with sustainability in mind should be highly maintainable, meaning that it can be repaired, reconditioned, and even remanufactured in order to get many more years of use compared to a non-maintainable, single-use version.  In some cases, components can be 'bought back' by the manufacturer and salvaged for other uses before being fully discarded. 

Mission-critical vehicles and equipment in over a dozen infrastructure sectors rely on heat transfer components manufactured by Cincinnati Radiator.  CR works directly with Original Equipment Manufacturers and Aftermarket service channels to supply premium-grade, long life radiators, coolers, and full cooling packages into extreme applications all over the world.  With our expanding inventory and fabrication space at our Fairfield, Ohio facility, we pride ourselves on having a personal touch, ultra-fast lead times, and one-off custom design capabilities.  For your next vehicle or heavy equipment heat transfer project, call us at (513) 874-5555, email us at, or visit our website at    

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