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Is this solid-state device the future of computer cooling?

908 Views 10 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Bill_Bright
This company has created a solid-state air pump.

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I guess we'll have to find out what they cost before we can properly work out whether they're a good idea or not.
"Solid state"? LOL

Yet another misleading and inaccurate marketing term invented by marketing weenies totally ignorant of the facts.

solid state (my bold underline added)

the state of matter in which materials are not fluid but retain their boundaries without support, the atoms or molecules occupying fixed positions with respect to one another and unable to move freely.​
(of a device) making use of the electronic properties of solid semiconductors (as opposed to electron tubes).​

I think it safe to say it we are not talking about vacuum tubes and semiconductors.

But we are talking about "vibrating" membranes. Nothing solid state about that. Just because a fan does not have a traditional motor and spinning blades, that does not make it "solid state". Even Dyson calls their fans simply, and accurately, "bladeless".
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OK, let's be pedantically accurate and call them microelectromechanical systems then. Sort of like the vibrating clock generator crystal in your computer, which most people would still call a solid state device.
It may be pedantic - but this is a "technical" support forum. Therefore, IMO, things should be technically correct.

I admit, I have a bias against misleading marketing ploys and tactics. And I can tolerate some marketing "hype" and "fluff". For example, I can accept that Ford, GMC, RAM, Chevy, Toyota and Nissan all have, "the #1 pickup truck". And I can accept how every new TV show is the "the new #1 hit". I have no doubt, there is some survey or comparison for some very narrow criteria somewhere, placing each of those in the #1 spot - at least for a minute or two.

But marketing fluff is quite different from fact. And IMO, since marketing weenies don't care about technical facts, and since our lawmakers have failed, throughout history, to put the consumer first, IMO, we, as technical advisers. need to at least make sure folks know the difference.
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If history tells us anything, it's that the meaning and use of words is fluid, and that they change.

Gay for example used to mean happy and carefree, but now has a commonly much different meaning for many. Bad can mean different things to different groups of people ...... and I dare say if I think hard enough I can come up with a few more examples.

Solid State to me, is just a term used to differentiate devises that have no "obvious" moving parts, from those devices that do. Is it a marketing term ...... sure it is, but it's a term that most people are familiar with, and I would imagine that most do not believe it is a statement of actual fact, it just acts as a useful descriptor.

As far as I'm concerned, the purpose of this forum is to help people with their problems, and along the way to educate them a little, and whilst solid state may not strictly be an accurate descriptor, then it is at least one they're familiar with and will understand when it is used.
The guy on the Action Lab, who has a doctorate in chemical engineering, explained solid-state fan terminology well. He said that, although piezoelectric fans do have moving parts, they still are considered solid-state devices because they don't have any wearing parts. Nothing is moving against anythign else and since everything is vibrating under the elastic limit of the material, there is no chance of work hardening either. Recall that it's plastic deformation that's necessary for work hardening to occur. Essentially, the devices never mechanically wear out.

Note that if the moving part is made of cheap plastic, eventually the plasticizer will volatilize out, which will change its elastic properties thus rendering it brittle. UV damage or oxidation would eventually do the same thing. However, these susceptibilities are not inherent to the devices themselves, nor would they be much of a concern with a high-quality plastic such as Teflon.

I'll let the Wiki author explain this:

Work hardening is a consequence of plastic deformation, a permanent change in shape. This is distinct from elastic deformation, which is reversible. Elastic deformation stretches the bonds between atoms away from their equilibrium radius of separation, without applying enough energy to break the inter-atomic bonds. Plastic deformation, on the other hand, breaks inter-atomic bonds, and therefore involves the rearrangement of atoms in a solid material.
One wonders if this is a variation of the Peltier Cooler, and the piezoelectric fan is just to move the hot air away from the actual Peltier device.
One wonders if this is a variation of the Peltier Cooler, and the piezoelectric fan is just to move the hot air away from the actual Peltier device.
No, this is purely a fan. The problem with Peltier coolers is that they are terribly inefficient (only 17% as efficient as vapor-compression refrigeration) and thus generate much more heat on the hot side than they cool on the cool side. It takes much less power to move heat than to remove heat because heat naturally wants to move (in fact, technically, heat is the exchange of thermal energy from a region of higher temperature to a region of lower temperature and not per se the thermal energy itself). That's why heatsinks and fans are actually pretty efficient at cooling things.

Thus, one major problem with combining this device with a Peltier cooler in a laptop would be battery drain. The other major problem would be, ironically for what we are trying to achieve, cooling. The fan itself only requires 1 W power. The smallest Peltier cooler I could find required 5 A current at 12 V, which would mean that the fan would have to get rid of an additional 60 W of heat just to cool the chip it was setting on a few degrees.
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I have to wonder if a piezoelectric fan is going to provide sufficient cooling over the large fans and heatsinks traditionally used. I know the Peltier cooler isn't a model of efficiency, but having power to run it with 800-900 watt power supplies shouldn't be an issue. ;) I get it's not going to be useful for a laptop. :D
Much will depend on how much air flowing through the case the case cooling can provide. Even the best CPU coolers will fail to keep the CPU adequately cooled if the case is incapable of extracting the CPU's heat out of the case.
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