GE Uses Jet Engine Tech in New Piezoelectric Coolers for Ultrabooks, Tablets
December 12, 2012 3:05 PM
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Fanless solution is only 4 mm tall
Component makers have toyed with novel cooler designs like
, but such designs have thus far not been widely adopted in the mobile space. As a result there's a major tradeoff between form factors and processing power.
While battery life is one aspect that forces mobile devices to adopt less powerful CPUs, another major issue is that fan-based coolers are too bulky to be useful, but passive coolers/heat spreaders are only able to suck up a little bit of excess heat. Apple, Inc. (
) and other PC manufacturers have at times
suffered overheating issues
General Electric Comp. (
it's come up to a novel solution to the competition between cooling, power, and form factor, unveiling a cooler based on jet-engine technology that both is compact and uses precious little power.
The new technology is titled Dual Piezoelectric Cooling Jets (DCJ) and appears to be a more advanced version of the aforementioned solid-state fans, employing "micro-fluidic bellows that provide high-velocity jets of air to cool electronic components."
GE claims the new device is simple to manufacture, and has no moving parts, making it less failure prone than traditional fans. It's a mere 4 millimeters tall -- 50 percent slimmer than traditional fans -- and consumes less than half the power of a traditional fan with comparable airflow.
GE's piezoelectric cooler is slender and low power.
Peter de Bock, lead Electronics Cooling Researcher at GE Global Research claims the technology is primed for use in designs like ultrabooks, hybrid laptops, and tablets, commenting, "DCJ was developed as an innovative way to dramatically reduce the amount of pressure losses and loading characteristics in aircraft engines and power generation in gas and wind turbines. Over the past 18 months we have addressed many challenges adapting this technology in areas of acoustics, vibration, and power consumption such that the DCJ can now be considered as an optimal cooling solution for ultra-thin consumer electronics products."
Chris Giovanniello, VP Microelectronics & Thermal Business Development at GE Licensing concurs, adding, "With new tablet and netbook roadmaps moving to platforms measuring less than 6mm high, it is clear that consumers are demanding thinner and more powerful electronic devices. GE’s patented DCJ technology not only frees up precious space for system designers, but it consumes significantly less power, allowing as much as 30 minutes of extra battery life. Best of all, DCJ can be made so quiet that users won’t even know it’s running."
The new solid-state cooler sounds intriguing, but it remains to be seen if OEMs will bite. GE thinks they will and is pushing forward with commercialization, shopping the technology around to OEMs for use in 2013 or 2014 devices.
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12/12/2012 6:58:10 PM
What I mean hear is it would be revolutionary only if some of the heat would be converted back to electricity and feed this amount of electricity back into the battery. But this is not mentioned hear. Thus you would still need a fan to cool the piezoelectric device and therefore only add 4mm and a little heat. Really no to laptops.
12/12/2012 7:04:39 PM
Might have spoken too quickly indeed. I hope the micro-fluildic air jets are cooling enough the device...
12/13/2012 2:03:08 PM
It's quite unfortunate that a link wasn't included in the article to the video demonstration included in the GE press release -
It's not really a high airflow device, but according to said video they actually replaced the fan in a lenovo ultrabook with it to no ill effect. Have to remember that laptops typically, especially ultrabooks, don't have very high airflow requirements, but they can still be noisy due to the small size and hence high speed of the fan - axial fans just don't do well in such cramped quarters.
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