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Radiators are heat exchangers used to transfer thermal energy from one medium to another for the purpose of cooling and heating. The majority of radiators are constructed to function in automobiles, buildings, and electronics. The radiator is always a source of heat to its environment, although this may be for either the purpose of heating this environment, or for cooling the fluid or coolant supplied to it, as for engine cooling. Despite the name, most radiators transfer the bulk of their heat via convection instead of thermal radiation.
The Roman hypocaust is an early example of a type of radiator for building space heating. Franz San Galli, a Prussian-born Russian businessman living in St. Petersburg, is credited with inventing the heating radiator around 1855, having received a radiator patent in 1857, but American Joseph Nason developed a primitive radiator in 1841 and received a number of U.S. patents for hot water and steam heating.