August 15, 2019

Detecting Coolant in Engine Oil

Fluid Life has developed a proprietary analytical method to detect and quantify the presence of coolant contamination in used (in-service) engine oil. This method was developed by Fluid Life in partnership with Dr. F.R. van de Voort, Professor Emeritus, McGill University.

Traditional methods of monitoring coolant ingress are comparatively unreliable or prohibitively expensive to perform routinely.

  • ASTM E2412 and JOAP FTIR methods are inexpensive and easy to perform. Unfortunately with a less than 15% detection rate in used engine oils these methods are
    unreliable indicators of the presence or absence of coolant contamination.
  • ASTM D7922 (Gas Chromatography) measures the concentration of ethylene glycol in used oil. This method provides excellent early warning but is considered prohibitively expensive to perform routinely and is normally triggered by the presence of coolant additive elements (sodium, potassium and boron). This analysis will not be triggered if the in-service coolant does not contain these elements. GC analysis is highly accurate but will not detect ethylene glycol after extreme conditions in the engine oil cause it to chemically degrade into glycolic acid, oxalic acid, formic acid or carbonic acid.

Fluid Life’s proprietary Chemometric method is reliable, inexpensive and can be performed routinely on all engine oils to monitor glycol and coolant contamination. This method detects the unique chemical signature of coolant components and degradation products in used (in-service) engine oil regardless of the source of contamination.


Download the discussion paper by Craig Winterfield, Vice President – Laboratory Services, Fluid Life, or contact a Fluid Life representative today.