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Closeup of Solid State Fan  (Source: Dan Schlitz and Vishal Singhal, Thorrn Micro Technologies)

Chart Showing solid Stat Fan vs. Traditional Fans  (Source: Thorrn Micro Technologies)
Researcher says the solid-state fan is the biggest improvement in cooling since the heat pipe

Many computer enthusiasts understand that how fast a processor runs is in part dependent on how well the chip can be cooled. This is why record-setting benchmark runs are typically made with processors cooled by exotic means.

Cooling is just as important for mobile systems like notebook computers and other portable electronics. The size of the fan required for the system can affect how small devices can be built. A pair of engineers from Thorrn Micro Technologies Inc, Dan Schlitz and Vishal Singhal, have developed a new solid-state fan that works similarly to household air purifiers.

The resulting fan is the most powerful and energy efficient fan of its size and moves more air than fans that are 35 times its size. The RSD5 solid-state fan is described by Singhal as, “One of the most significant advancements in electronics cooling since heat pipes. It could change the cooling paradigm for mobile electronics.”

The device operates thanks to a phenomenon called corona wind. This corona wind is created by placing a series of live wires within uncharged conducting plates contoured into half cylinders, partially enveloping the wires. The live wires generate micro-scale plasma that conducts electricity.

The corona wind is created within the intense electrical field that results from the configuration of the wires and the conducting plates. The researchers say they were able to control the micro-scale discharge to produce maximum airflow without risk of arcing or sparks which could prove catastrophic to electronic devices [Video].

Schlitz says, “The technology has the power to cool a 25-watt chip with a device smaller than 1 cubic-cm and can someday be integrated into silicon to make self-cooling chips.”

MSI has also been working on more efficient ways to cool electronic components as well. DailyTech reported in February that MSI had announced a new ECOlution chipset cooler that operates on the Stirling Engine Theory.

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RE: Pressure - Velocity graph...
By jibril on 3/26/2008 5:37:22 PM , Rating: 2
I teach Fluid Mechanics and also Transport Phenomena (heat and mass transfer) at a major university. Hopefully I can help ;) I'll try to explain in very lightly worded terms.

If you want the gist, read the next two paragraphs only, skip the rest of my ramblings...

point to graph: higher velocity means better cooling. Don't read any more into it than that. This graph is a energy curve associated with any energy-to-flow machinery (fan, pump, etc...) it in laymens terms says "for a given fan (lets pick the red dotted line) to supply a certain flowrate of air(lets pick 1 m/s on the x-axis) the fan will give you a certain pressure reading (graph shows about 13 Pascals pressure)if you put a gauge on the outlet."

I saw someone mention "back pressure" and he is correct. Imagine this being a pump pumping fluid through a pipe, and you had a valve on the outlet. As you start to close off the valve (lower the flow of fluid... trace your finger left on the graph along one of the fan lines) the pressure inbetween the pump and the valve will go up as you build up back pressure. Reversing this, is opening the valve to it's fullest, you let off pressure. Eventually you reach the maximum theoretical limit of zero "back pressure" meaning that the air is flowing so fast that the molecules don't even press on the spring in a gaugh (zero pressure) and this is the maximum flowrate you will get. Pressure drop causes a flow. But at zero pressure, there is no more room for you to essentially lower the pressure anymore, to increase the pressure drop so a maximum theoretical flow will be obtained. The mechanical system integrity determines thhe parameters on the graph, by being designed to minimize "bad" aspects of energy conversion, i.e. friction, or entropy.

Summary, this graph emphasizes that the solid state fan is worse at lower flowrates than conventional fans (at a given pressure it produces less flow) but as science kicks in, the phenomena they are exploiting overtakes where conventional fans top off and becomes more effective, producing higher flows. The lines cross at around 1 m/s and 15 Pa. Now I ran some quick calcs. This graph ONLY shows
a 40mm fan as the maximum testing case. We all use cooling means better than this for our processors, and cases for sure. The 80mm tricool fan pushes 32.5 cfm of air at max voltage (doing the math this is 2.39 m/s) putting this on the graph as being comparable to the power of this solid state fan. However, the operating rate of mechanical fans is never really on the highest flow end of the curve, rather the best efficiency point (BEP) which gives the best energy-to-flow operating point (which is somewhere in the middle)

what i'd like to see really is the efficiency curve that's usually on graphs like this. Sure you may push more air, but at what cost? It could take more electricity to fuel the solid state fan than a conventional fan to push the same air. This company however, to me, and according to this graph is pushing to prove that it's better on a SIZE OF THE FAN basis. Which in that case, yes, is very true. This thing pushes the same velocity of air as an 80mm case fan at it's max theoretical flowrate, and is the size of a quarter.

Problems I see with this:
1) Noise. That much velocity with a smaller enclosure means NOISE. Test... blow air through a milkshake straw, then a coffee straw with the same force. You don't want to have to hear your girlfriend on the cell phone over that whoosh, then again, you might want to drown her out if she's being naggy ;)

2) Ozone. Electric fields causes ozone (O3) to form from radicalization of O2 in the air. It smells bad, like a nasty burnt smell, and is bad for you...

3) BEP. The best efficiency point is not mentioned here, therefore you have no idea where they plan to operate this thing to optimize it's energy utilization. Sure it can pump out 2.5 m/s of air, and be the size of a Ritz cracker, but in a laptop, and at poor efficiency, could drain your battery like there's no tomorrow. My guess is that anything electrical is more efficienty relatively than anything mechanical, because mechanical friction (like in a rotating fan) is always a big energy eater. But we shall see...

4) At hotter temperatures, air cooling still won't cut it for your high end computational needs. You don't want all that noise, ozone, and well, convective heat transfer coefficients of air still can't compete with the amazing conductive power as well as SILENCE provided by other methods, like TEC's, or copper blocks in liquid cooling systems. (testing this) Take anything that's hot, like a frying pan. Let it sit under a high powered desk fan to cool. Yea, sure that cools it fast. But also, you could just throw that bad boy into a sink filled with water. Which do you think cools the pan faster? ;)

The applications for this is not going to be cooling your 32-core Intel QX 66Million in 2015, but in my opinion, it's better than having NO FAN at all in something like a cell phone as long as you operate at lower flow rates (no noise, lower ozone, as well as keeping things small). I hated when my old razr would literally burn my face. But it's not a trade off to save my skin, if I get cancer from Ozone poisoning.

To understand flow and pressure further, there is the a relationship, thanks to Newton. look up "newtown's second law" "momentum conservation" or a simplified frictionless version the "bernoullis equation" or search "pump curves" on the net.

anyway... hope that helps

"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet.  A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis
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