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MSI ECOlution Chipset Cooler  (Source: TweakTown)
MSI ECOlution chipset cooler operates on the Stirling Engine Theory

MSI has designed a new chipset cooling fan that is able to operate without electricity. MSI’s new chipset cooler, which is accordingly dubbed the “Air Power Cooler,” offers all of the benefits of a cooler with a fan without drawing any power.   

Energy efficiency of fans can make a large difference, especially in enterprise environments where hundreds of PCs are running at once.  Although passive cooling is always an option, it doesn’t offer the cooling capability of a fan.

The new MSI cooler isn’t a passive cooler but actually uses a fan to cool the chipset without using any electricity. Ironically, the fan gets its power from the very thing it’s trying to remove — thermal energy.

The system is based on a beta Stirling engine. As hot air expands in the system, it applies pressure to the central piston in the heatsink pushing it up. The piston's movement upwards rotates gears which in turn spin the fan. Thermal energy generated by the chipset is converted into kinetic energy.

The fan blows through a common looking finned radiator to disperse the Northbridge’s heat production.

MSI tells DailyTech that the system is able to convert 70% of heat power to kinetic energy. It is important to note that enough heat must be supplied to spin the fan blades. If the chipset isn’t hot enough, the entire system will not run.

MSI is working on the cooler with Taiwanese company Polo-Tech. The powerless fan is expected to make its debut on MSI’s ECOlution during CeBIT 2008.

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RE: Ingenius
By Hare on 3/1/2008 1:24:01 PM , Rating: 2
Btw. I wonder how difficult/expensive it would be to use a stirling engine in a modern car. I know that Stirling engines don't scale well to high output but why not make a diesel hybrid car which would also use a stirling engine to provide additional power and increase efficiency? Diesel engines waste plenty of energy (though not as much as gasoline engines) through the exhaust which could be harnessed with a stirling engine.

Someone kindly tell me why this is not feasible?

RE: Ingenius
By masher2 on 3/1/2008 1:38:58 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, NASA did a lot of research in putting Stirling engines in cars. The basic problem is such engines have difficulty varying their power level while still remaining efficient. Quite obviously, driving a car in city traffic has an enormous range in power demand, which makes the engine very inefficient (or horribly complex, to compensate).

A Stirling engine might be a good fit in a serial hybrid, as the engine can be tuned to run at one specific power output only.

RE: Ingenius
By Hare on 3/1/2008 2:00:33 PM , Rating: 2
The basic problem is such engines have difficulty varying their power level while still remaining efficient.

Ok (I also checked Wikipedia and read about NASA). The reason why I said diesel hybrid was that maybe a Stirling engine could be used to charge batteries?

It would be quite difficult to use a stirling engine as the main power source (like you said) but maybe a Stirling engine could be used as a secondary engine as I said above? I believe NASA mainly researched Stirling engines as main power source? Philips researched Stirling engines between 1930-1970 but the battery technology back than was pretty poor. Nowadays the same old ideas might work better.

RE: Ingenius
By Alexvrb on 3/2/2008 10:56:39 AM , Rating: 2
It wouldn't be *that* bad an idea for a secondary engine, maybe. But it actually might work better in a non-serial hybrid where the gas engine is still coupled to the wheels through the trans+axle, as it would still be running most of the time. In a serial hybrid like the Volt, it wouldn't run the engine nearly as often in typical usage (especially since it has decent plug-in range).

Even when the Volt engine IS running, its not propelling the vehicle, and it is basically an efficient turbocharged generator. So a Stirling engine would add unneccessary weight and cost and add little benefit.

RE: Ingenius
By Nockeln on 3/3/2008 9:25:57 AM , Rating: 2
Just as a comparison, Swedish submarines are powered by Stirling engines when running in submerged conditions (Gotland Class).
So to say that Stirling engines are unreliable I take with a grain of salt since reliability is of the utmost importance in submarines.

RE: Ingenius
By HVAC on 3/3/2008 10:12:00 AM , Rating: 2
The reliability of the Stirling engine is predicate on the particular design approach and materials used.

However, it is much improved from the internal combustion engine in that the piston(s) do not have to contact burning fuel, preventing formation of "sludge" from the engine oil.

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