Water cooling is a method of heat removal from components and industrial equipment. As opposed to air cooling, water is used as the heat conductor. Water cooling is commonly used for cooling automobile internal combustion engines and large industrial facilities such as steam electric power plants, hydroelectric generators, petroleum refineries and chemical plants. Other uses include cooling the barrels of machine guns, cooling of lubricant oil in pumps; for cooling purposes in heat exchangers; cooling products from tanks or columns, and recently, cooling of various major components inside high-end personal computers. The main mechanism for water cooling is convective heat transfer.
Modern automotive cooling systems are slightly pressurized. This raises the boiling-point of the coolant and reduces evaporation
The use of water cooling carries the risk of damage from freezing. Automotive and many other engine cooling applications require the use of a water and antifreeze mixture to lower the freezing point to a temperature unlikely to be experienced. Antifreeze also inhibits corrosion from dissimilar metals and can increase the boiling point, allowing a wider range of water cooling temperatures. Its distinctive odor also alerts operators to cooling system leaks and problems that would go unnoticed in a water-only cooling system. The heated water can also be used to warm the air conditioning system inside the car, if so desired.
Other less common chemical additives are products to reduce surface tension. These additives are meant to increase the efficiency of automotive cooling systems. Such products are used to enhance the cooling of underperforming or undersized cooling systems or in racing where the weight of a larger cooling system could be a disadvantage.