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How the latest viscous technology can increase uptime, reduce noise and lower fuel emissions


November 25, 2020

Rising fuel costs. More stringent regulations. An increasingly complex global economy.

Viscous engine cooling technology isn’t a magic elixir for these challenges. But it can go a long way in helping solve them.

Both the on-highway and off-highway segments’ latest viscous fan drives — which use fluid to control when and how fast an engine’s fan spins — are optimized to operate only when needed. That makes for more efficient use of energy within the engine, less fan noise and less harmful debris that gets kicked up into the air.

This can be achieved in three ways:

Perform in cold conditions

The latest drives are designed to disengage quickly after start-up. Once disengaged, the fan runs at the minimal speed required to keep the engine operating at maximum efficiency. These slower fan cycles save on fuel, ensure a quieter start-up and – perhaps most importantly – help the engine warm up faster in cold conditions. Horton’s new series of LCX fan drives include this proprietary Cold-Start Disengagemen™ feature.

Lower off speeds

Of course, the flip side entails the ability to quickly regulate engine temperature when cooling is requested by the engine computer. Variable-speed drives achieve this feat by spinning the fan at speeds as much as 50 percent slower than competitive products at similar conditions. This reduces parasitic loss, improving fuel economy by using only the energy that’s needed.

Low-speed controllability

This is where viscous technology far surpasses the efficiency offered by other engine cooling systems. By communicating with a truck, tractor or other piece of equipment’s ECU, the drive “knows” just how much oil to release into grooves that control how fast the fan spins. This makes for super-precise fan control at low speeds, optimizing available horsepower, reducing noise and causing the fan to modulate more smoothly than any other system can.

Horton currently offers two different LCX drives; the LCX230 is designed for heavy-duty trucks and large construction, agricultural and other off-highway equipment, while the LCX170 is tailored to meet the needs of low power, heavy-duty trucks, medium-duty trucks and mid-sized off-road applications.

Viscous technology has become standard in European markets, whereas in North America — especially the trucking industry — it has yet to become a mainstay. That’s expected to change within the next couple years, when original equipment manufacturers will be forced to comply with stricter emissions regulations while continuing to seek greater system efficiency.

It’s an important development as truck fleets look to cut costs amid driver shortages and increased logistics demands, and for farmers, construction workers and other operators requiring optimal performance from their machinery. The European Union this year phased in its fifth stage of emission standards, and the United States is expected to follow suit in the coming years.