Car cooling can be equally, if not
more demanding. Cooling a car on the road typically involves
removing enough heat to heat two houses in the winter. Cars
typically utilize a mix of fans and water cooling to keep their
engines running at a manageable temperature.
Both of these
applications may get a boost, thanks to a relatively new
cooling technology being researched at Purdue University.
The new tech is essentially phase change cooling (used in freezers
and in exotic phase change cooling systems), but the liquid is pumped
through microchannels, tiny channels cut into chips. The minute
size of these channels makes them behave very differently than
macroscale phase change cooling systems and makes them even more
The university is making liquid cooled chips with
the help of Delphi Electronics. Suresh Garimella, the R. Eugene
and Susie E. Goodson Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue
University, and doctoral student Tannaz Harirchia are the researchers
leading the drive to derive new mathematical formulas to fully
understand how boiling occurs in these microchannels and how to
improve it to transfer away more heat energy.
write, "[A]llowing a liquid to boil in cooling systems
dramatically increases how much heat can be removed, compared to
simply heating a liquid to below its boiling point."
Describes Professor Garimella, "Boiling occurs
differently in tiny channels than it does in ordinary size tubing
used in conventional cooling systems."
microchannel heatsink measures one square inch in area. It uses
a small compressor to get rid of the heat and return it to the liquid
The Purdue researchers are continuing their research,
which is funded by Indiana's 21st Century Research and Technology
Fund, and Purdue-based National Science Foundation Cooling
Technologies Research Center. Meanwhile, the commercial
chipmaking industry's biggest players are very interested in this new
kind of cooling. IBM is currently working on a multilayer chip
which has liquid directly inside it, likely in microchannels.
breakthrough may help to usher in a new era of greater computing
power and improved automotive performance by allowing chips to run at
much higher frequencies, and cars engines to operate at greater
efficiencies. In this field that has long relied on two things
-- water pumps and fans -- a boiling water microchannel solution
using mini-compressors is innovation at its finest.