Sandia’s Jeff Koplow makes an adjustment to an earlier prototype of his Air Bearing Heat Exchanger invention. The technology, as known as the “Sandia Cooler,” will significantly reduce the energy needed to cool the processor chips in data centers and large-scale computing environments. Photo: Dino Vournas
Laboratories has developed a new technology with the potential to
alter the air-cooling landscape in computing and microelectronics. Lab
officials are now seeking licensees in the electronics chip cooling field to
license and commercialize the device.
known as the Air Bearing Heat Exchanger, is a novel, proprietary air-cooling
invention developed by Sandia researcher Jeff Koplow, who was recently selected
by the National
Academy of Engineering (NAE) to take part in the NAE’s 17th annual U.S.
Frontiers of Engineering symposium.
Koplow said the
Sandia Cooler technology, which is patent-pending, will significantly reduce
the energy needed to cool the processor chips in data centers and large-scale
computing environments. The yearly electricity bill paid by the information
technology sector in the U.S.
is currently on the order of seven billion dollars and continues to grow.
in cooling, other benefits
In a conventional CPU cooler, the heat transfer bottleneck is the boundary
layer of “dead air” that clings to the cooling fins. With the Sandia Cooler,
heat is efficiently transferred across a narrow air gap from a stationary base
to a rotating structure. The normally stagnant boundary layer of air enveloping
the cooling fins is subjected to a powerful centrifugal pumping effect, causing
the boundary layer thickness to be reduced to ten times thinner than normal.
This reduction enables an improvement in cooling performance within a
much smaller package.
high-speed rotation of the heat exchanger fins minimizes the problem of heat
exchanger fouling. The way the redesigned cooling fins slice through the air improves aerodynamic efficiency, which translates to extremely quiet
operation. The Sandia Cooler’s benefits have been verified by lab researchers
on a proof-of-concept prototype approximately sized to cool computer CPUs. The
technology, Koplow says, also shows great potential for personal computer
Broader energy sector
The Sandia Cooler also offers benefits in other applications where thermal
management and energy efficiency are important, particularly heating,
ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC). Koplow said that if Air Bearing Heat
Exchanger technology proves amenable to size scaling, it has the potential to
decrease overall electrical power consumption in the U.S. by more than 7%.
in licensing the Sandia Cooler are invited to review and respond to the
solicitation through July 15. The solicitation can be found here. Although it is
first focused on licensing opportunities in the field of electronics chip
cooling, Sandia will soon establish a separate process for exploring partnering
and/or licensing opportunities in other fields.
A technical white
paper on the Sandia Cooler technology can be found here.