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3M shows off demo PC submerged in liquid

By midian182 · 8 replies
Feb 12, 2019
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  1. Back in 2014, it was reported that Intel and SGI had been trialing a new method of cooling servers and supercomputers using 3M’s low-boiling-point dielectric liquid. Novec has multiple applications, including aerosol formulations, electronic coatings, and fire suppression. It also does a good job of keeping CPU temperatures low.

    “With a wide range of boiling points, low viscosity and high dielectric strength, 3M Novec Engineered Fluids are suitable for cleaning, heat transfer and other applications,” writes 3M.

    As spotted by HardOCP, 3M engineer Conny Larsson has posted a YouTube video demonstrating a Novec build. It follows on from a similar system he created several years ago, though this final version is much smaller. There’s also a series of seven videos where you can see the entire process of creating the new demo machine.

    When running a stress test, the heat of the processor quickly reaches the boiling temperature of the Novec liquid, causing it to evaporate. The gas travels upwards inside the sealed tank, making contact with the cooler radiator and condensing into its original liquid state, which drips down back into the tank.

    The smaller size of the most recent build does make it more suitable for home use, though it’s not exactly what you’d call practical. But it’s still very cool, in both senses of the word, and an impressive feat of engineering.

    Permalink to story.

  2. noel24

    noel24 TS Evangelist Posts: 515   +447

    I always wondered why noone is using conductive water instead of some oil. With a cost of simple AIO going in dozens of $, and custom loops costing hundreds, it make no sense to skimp on a fluid that can potentially leak and destroy Your $1200 GPU ($1.2K is a new black, nVidia?)
    Even in the video above they use water in a secondary loop? I suppose water is much more efficient in absorbing and giving away heat, but 99% percent alcohol solution would be even better (although more hazardous). But there must be a light oil or other liquid that will bring advantages of both?
    Also, years ago I've seen oil that have magnetic properties and could be driven by linear engine instead of mechanical pump. That would be awsome, although I suppose rather bulky.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
    Misagt likes this.
  3. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus Stone age computing - click on the rock below.. Posts: 4,058   +1,186

    I found the pattern of bubbles on the CPU to be interesting. I had expected to see them appear in a more centralized manner. The fact that the bubbles appear at the bottom edge of the lid leads to more questions about the lid-to-chip interface.

    Also leads to questions about the possible application of phase-change materials to studies of thermal properties. Does a stream of bubbles wick more heat than the changeover from liquid to gas?

    Thanks, Rob for the article.
  4. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,377   +3,772

    Dielectric coolants, cleaners, etc. are certainly nothing new. I used to sell them back in the 1980's during my short stint as a chemical salesman. Using them as a coolant is a different approach and with the speed ever increasing it could certainly worth investigation. Has anyone used a mix of water and auto coolant just like in your automobile? I suspect a 50/50 solution would be best but I'm not sure about any conflicts of that and plastic parts .........
  5. seeprime

    seeprime TS Guru Posts: 381   +406

    Alcohols are conductive, which will short out electronics. A non-polar fluid is required for direct contact, when used as a cooler.
    Godel likes this.
  6. lipe123

    lipe123 TS Evangelist Posts: 798   +330

    When liquids evaporate they absorb energy from the surrounding area. This is why people sweat and then cool down.
    Same applies here I suspect, the "boiling" is actually helping to absorb the heat better and keep it cool.

    It does look really awesome, I'm looking forward to some kind of new cpu cooling blocks that seal on the motherboard with this liquid in it or something.
  7. lipe123

    lipe123 TS Evangelist Posts: 798   +330

    Been using standard radiator coolant and distilled water in my loop for YEARS. I haven't cleaned or drained it in over 2 years and my temps are still great. Also WAY cheaper than the expensive "fancy" liquids on sale that causes all kinds of gunk from the dye separating out over time.
    Cycloid Torus likes this.
  8. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,362   +4,999

    This is how I have always understood boiling. You may be saying the same thing, I'm just not following you all the way.

    The colder liquid absorbs heat. And when temperature reaches boiling point (which is defined by the solution used and pressure) the liquid molecules separate, turning to gas. Once the gas cools and condenses back to a liquid, the cycle repeats.

    The same process takes place inside coolers with heat pipes. This demo does it on a larger scale, where we can see the process working.

    For anyone interested
  9. Knot Schure

    Knot Schure TS Addict Posts: 266   +113

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