Japan-based DENSO Corporation, parent company of DENSO International America, today announced the product introduction of an automotive cooling module with a combined engine-cooling radiator and air conditioning condenser.
"This is a first in the global automotive market," said DENSO Corporation Managing Director Koichi Fukaya.
The new module - SF* Cooling Module - is already in Toyota Motor Corporation's Prius hybrid car, which was introduced in the U.S. this July and will be launched in the European market this autumn.
"Compared with the conventional approach of a separate radiator and a separate air conditioner condenser, DENSO's new module achieves a 40 percent reduction in thickness," Fukaya said. "This offers greater space savings and improves installation in vehicles."
Fukaya added, "The SF Cooling Module also improves cooling performance of both the engine coolant and air conditioner refrigerant by roughly 10 percent."
The cooling fins of the module are shared by the radiator and condenser. Heat transfer from the radiator to the condenser through shared cooling fins has been an industry-wide issue. Radiator coolant generally rises to a temperature of about 90 degrees centigrade, which is higher than the 60 degrees centigrade of condenser refrigerant. The difference in temperature was considered to hinder air conditioning performance.
"DENSO has solved the issue of heat transfer jointly with Toyota, by developing a fin that incorporates a slit**, which optimizes radiator and condenser performance," said Fukaya. "For easy disassembly and increased ability for module recycling, DENSO has eliminated the conventional resin radiator tank and adopted all-aluminum materials."
A radiator is a device for cooling the engine coolant while a condenser is intended to remove heat from air conditioner refrigerant. Both the radiator and condenser are installed forward of the engine for better exposure to cooling airflow during operation of the car.
"Two approaches are taken in the modularization of auto components: assembly modularization, wherein parts manufacturers undertake the assembly process for the automotive maker; and function-intensive, value-added modularization, through which the functions of two or more parts are integrated into a single module," Fukaya said.
According to Fukaya, "DENSO's approach is to foster modularization with the goal of creating greater added value. To promote value-added modularization, DENSO restructured its company organization, in January 1999, by integrating functionally similar product lines into four business groups."
The SF Cooling Module was developed through joint work between two divisions of the Thermal Systems Group: the Cooling Systems & Components Product Division, which is in charge of radiators, and the Air-conditioning Product Division, which is in charge of air conditioners.
DENSO Corporation is a global supplier of advanced technology, systems, and components. The company employs 81,000 people in 26 countries. Consolidated global sales for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2000 totaled US$17.8 billion.
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*"SF" is the abbreviation for "Single Fin", "Slim Fin" or "Slit Fin".
**Patents pending in Japan, U.S.A., and Europe.