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Cool Your PC or Laptop with Ionic Wind

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 29 comments

Tessera is developing a cooling system that charges ions to move air particles away from a laptop's heat source.

Back in March, international chip-packaging company Tessera presented a unique idea to attendees of the IEEE Semi-Therm Symposium. The presentation illustrated a way to cool a working laptop by eliminating the commonly used fan. In its place, Tessera proposed a cooling system that charges ions to move air particles away from the heat source. According to the company, this unique iconic-cooling system can actually extract 30-percent more heat from a device than the conventional exhaust fan.

"Today, consumers are demanding electronic products--such as notebook computers, game consoles, and set-top boxes--that are high performance, ultra compact and extremely reliable," the company said. "However as these products become increasingly more computing-centric, they are generating substantially more heat in smaller areas and putting a strain on conventional cooling solutions: mechanical fan-based systems that are large, noisy, and unreliable."

As defined in the company's presentation, a high intensity electric field ionizes air molecules surrounding the cooling system's electrode tip. While the ions travel from the corona electrode to a collector electrode, they collide with neutral air particles, transferring charge and momentum, and increasing airflow. As an example, Tessera's ionic cooling system could be mounted next to a laptop vent. Heat pipes leading from the stressed CPU would carry the heat to a point between the ionic cooling system electrodes. Thus, the charged molecules, moving from the corona to the collector, would carry the heat away from the heatpipe, and out the vent.

The development process hasn't been easy for the company, however. Because laptops are built to function for at least 30,000 hours, the research team needed to find a way to keep the electrode materials from corroding prematurely. Another challenge presented itself in the form of power consumption, requiring the development of a converter that transforms the laptop battery's 12 volts DC into the required 3,000 volts necessary to power the ionic cooler. The research team eventually developed a tiny power supply roughly three centimeters square in size.

Tessera is currently trying to determine how to reduce the amount of dust invading the space surrounding the electrodes, possibly by using a prefilter to lessen the amount of damaging particles. "Dust collection reduces efficiency," the company said, adding that multiple solutions are still under development. According to Tessera, stock laptops will not need to be altered other than removing the pre-installed fans. The cooling system is fully self-contained, featuring the ionic blower and power supply built right into the fan cavity.

Ultimately, the advantage to having this system installed is that it remains quiet, features no moving parts, costs less than the conventional fan, has a flexible form factor, and consumes less power. Unfortunately, the technology is still under development. However, Craig Mitchell, senior vice president of the Interconnect, Components, and Materials division of Tessera, said that the company plans to commercialize the system next year.

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  • -1 Hide
    mrfisthand , May 21, 2009 11:59 PM
    B-
    Check your spelling.
  • 4 Hide
    badfps , May 22, 2009 12:05 AM
    lpatop lol
  • -3 Hide
    Shadow703793 , May 22, 2009 12:22 AM
    Neat idea but what about possible electrical noise,etc?
  • 1 Hide
    PC_GI , May 22, 2009 1:20 AM
    Great, now when i go to work on peoples laptops i will be met with a 6000v 'welcome sign' that shocks the piss out of me.
  • 4 Hide
    anamaniac , May 22, 2009 1:29 AM
    How about quiet desktop solutions?

    liquid cooling is great and all, but if you're building a cheap HTPC, it may be out of budget.
    This is saying cheap, quiet, efficient. I like the idea of it. Makes sense if you want something quiet that performs well.
  • -4 Hide
    starryman , May 22, 2009 1:34 AM
    It would be cheaper and better just to make the heat sink bigger simply by spreading it out throughout the chasis via heat pipes.
  • 0 Hide
    PC_GI , May 22, 2009 1:36 AM
    anamaniacHow about quiet desktop solutions?liquid cooling is great and all, but if you're building a cheap HTPC, it may be out of budget.This is saying cheap, quiet, efficient. I like the idea of it. Makes sense if you want something quiet that performs well.


    Performs well, Unless you get dust.. Im in Iraq right now... This would never work here and I know common folk refuse to dust their PC's... it will spell disaster!!
  • -2 Hide
    simplyderp , May 22, 2009 2:03 AM
    PC_GIGreat, now when i go to work on peoples laptops i will be met with a 6000v 'welcome sign' that shocks the piss out of me.


    How about 1 amp? /gg
  • 6 Hide
    PC_GI , May 22, 2009 2:26 AM
    simplyderpHow about 1 amp? /gg




    You have never heard, "Volts Hurt, Amps Kill"???
  • 4 Hide
    coopchennick , May 22, 2009 2:56 AM
    What about it producing ozone? Even Sharper Image admits that their ionic breeze air purifier produces ozone.

    I wouldn't want to have to google myself out of a locked closet with one of these in my laptops...
  • -4 Hide
    Gin Fushicho , May 22, 2009 5:34 AM
    Insta buy. cold=good.
  • -3 Hide
    ravewulf , May 22, 2009 7:28 AM
    When they fix the problems its got, I'll buy it
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , May 22, 2009 12:05 PM
    They seem to forget that this is exactly how electrostatic air cleaners work. So in one month, your PC will be clogged up.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , May 22, 2009 12:09 PM
    Very very old news. First time I heard of the ionized air fan idea was in an Elektor electronics magazine back in 1982 or 1983 where they presented it as a diy description, maybe someone can dig up which back issue it was in. The inherent problem is of course that ionizing air generates ozon which is toxic.
  • 1 Hide
    duzcizgi , May 22, 2009 1:26 PM
    simplyderpHow about 1 amp? /gg

    6000 V * 1 amp = 6000 joule is quite enough to char you. I wonder if there's that much energy in the laptop battery, though.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , May 22, 2009 1:54 PM
    Have you ever introduced latex to ozone (latex glove, etc)? the ozone will eat it right up. I didn't know about ozone till I watched a special about it.
  • -4 Hide
    monkeysweat , May 22, 2009 2:24 PM
    the smallest statice electric spark is around 500 volts,,,3000 is really nothing if there is minimal amount of power flowing through it,,,the only way to get a good shock off the system is if you touch both ends at the same time,, then you're just being an idiot
    as for making heatsink bigger,,this is for a laptop, ppl are trying to make them smaller, not heavier
    I agree the ozone part may be an issue,,but who knows how much is actually generated, it may take days in a completely sealed room to have enough to cause a problem.
  • 2 Hide
    ceteras , May 22, 2009 3:00 PM
    "...costs less than the conventional fan..."

    Hm... costs less to produce, it will not be cheap for us.
  • -3 Hide
    eddieroolz , May 22, 2009 3:57 PM
    Sounds interesting and practical too. I would definitely want to have one if it was available.
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , May 22, 2009 5:30 PM
    uses less power than a fan, even after the conversion of 3000V in a laptop? I'd like to see this!
    Surely there are safety issues with 3000V being on a device like a laptop; risk of getting electrocuted, risk of distorting radiofrequencies like wireless lan, cellphone signals, the internal sound card, interferring with hearing devices (or perhaps pacemakers)...

    It's pretty hard to imagine, looking at my laptop, that this device will be able to extend more heat than a fan, seeing that my laptop's fan is pretty powerful and needs a lot of air to cool it.
    So perhaps the system used needs a larger surface? It's hard to imagine it could extract more heat from a laptop than a fan would, while not being able to provide the same airflow.

    What would happen if an obstacle would be next to the laptop (eg: an empty plastic bottle placed next to the fan's exhaust)? With less airflow, and still more heat being extracted, the bottle could locally heat up a lot, and perhaps even melt.

    Hard to believe... Especially if they say that it 'costs less than a fan'. Since a laptop fan costs less than $1, it is hard to believe those claims are true!
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