The Sandia Cooler prototype (Credit:: Sandia National Laboratories)
Researchers working for the Sandia National Laboratories developed a unique new architecture for air-based cooler. The “Sandia Cooler” as it is known improves the cooling efficiency of conventional air based coolers by an order of magnitude and more while drastically reducing noise and keeping the entire unit free of dust.
Although some electronic components have moved to passive cooling over the years, most CPUs these days still relay on fans to keep them from getting too hot. Conventional air-cooled heat exchanger technology has several drawbacks: it’s not terribly efficient, it tends to be noisy (depending mostly on how fast the blades are spinning) and it attracts a lot of dust over time (which can also cause problems with the cooling unit). -
Unlike traditional air coolers, the Sandia Cooler transfers heat efficiently from a stationary base plate to a rotating at 2000 RPMs in a counterclockwise motion. This architecture forces dead air to move due to a powerful centrifugal pumping effect which increase the efficiency of the cooler by up to 30X compared to a conventional design. The entire unit hovers very close to its base providing a drastic improvement in aerodynamic efficiency which in turns improves the acoustic performance of the unit making it extremely quite. -
A prototype of the Sandia Cooler has already been demonstrated and according to the researchers it should also prove to be very practical from the standpoint of cost, complexity and ruggedness. The researchers mentioned many potential applications of the technology including CPU and GPU cooling for Laptop and high end gaming desktop computers. LED lighting cooling and even large appliances automotive and industrial applications. -
A video showing the Sandia Cooler prototype in action
More information can be found on the Sandia National Laboratories website. -
In 2007 TFOT published an extensive article looking at different approaches to CPU cooling and focusing on another innovative cooling technology called ionic wind (aka electrostatic fluid accelerator) which uses corona discharge, an electrical discharge near a charged conductor caused by the ionization of the surrounding fluid (air). Placing a grounded anode at the opposite end of the CPU causes the charged ions in the corona to accelerate towards the anode, colliding with neutral air molecules on the way. During these collisions, momentum is transferred from the ionized gas to the neutral air molecules, resulting in movement of gas towards the anode. More on this innovative technology can be found on “Ionic Wind – Chillin’ the PC“.
Iddo has a B.A. in Philosophy and Cognitive Science and an M.A. in Philosophy of Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is currently writing his Ph.D. thesis on the relationship between the scientific community and industry. Iddo was awarded the 2006 Bar Hillel philosophy of science prize for his work on the relationship between science and technology. He is a member of the board of the lifeboat foundation and was the editor of several high-profile science and technology websites since 1999.