Author Archives: Rebecca ODay

How to choose the best cold plate and deploy it for electronics cooling.

Liquid cooling has been increasing in use for many years and this corresponds to the increase in the power and density of electronics. Indeed, “The increase in computer density will continue to make air cooling less and less feasible, compared with liquid cooling. Between 2018 and 2023, the engineered fluids market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 8.8% to reach $1,304 million, from $854 million in 2018, Out of all the market’s sub sectors, it is the heat transfer fluids (cooling) segment that is expected to register the highest CAGR. ” According to an article in Electropages by Nnamdi Anyadike.

So it is important for engineers to have the tools and knowledge necessary to implement liquid cooling. And we have 3 resources that are helpful:

First, our webinar on 9-17-20 “Selecting and Designing Liquid Cold Plates for Deployment in Electronic Systems”. This webinar is live and our speaker is Dr. Kaveh Azar, Ph.D. Here’s what we’ll cover:

The use of liquid cooling systems is becoming more practical and effective for managing skyrocketing increases in power dissipation. But how do you decide when you need to cool with liquid? How do you find the right liquid cooling system for your application? This section provides the best practices for implementing a liquid cooling system at the device level.

You can join our webinar at this link:

Second, is a tutorial on liquid cooling simulation from our webinar sponsor 6SigmaET. In this tutorial, engineers will learn how to conduct and analyze liquid cooling using thermal simulation using 6SigmaET. Click the image to get to the tutorial.

Th6SigmaET Tutorial on liquid cooling simulation

Third, we have an Engineering eBook from ATS available on liquid cooling. Engineers are welcome to download it without registering, just click the following link and get your PDF copy:

What is a thermoelectric cooler and where is it used in cooling electronics?

Thermoelectric coolers (TEC) are interesting devices. Also known as a Peltier device, due to their being invented by French physicist Jean-Charles-Athanase Peltier. A TEC can use alot of energy but when you need significant cooling, a TEC is a good solution. Learn more about them in our 2-min. video

Emerging from the Abnormal: The Rep, Distributor and Manufacturer Perspective on Emerging into a Coronavirus World – An Electronics Industry Roundtable

The coronavirus global pandemic presents unique challenges for everyone, from learning to home school, to re-opening schools, hospitals, retail, restaurants and industry, every niche of society is implementing ways to open. The electronics industry is no different.

This 60 minute pod-cast from ERA, the Electronics Representative Association, is well worth the listen. In it, Walter Tobin, ERA CEO and round table facilitator and Stephanie Tierney , round table host, welcome co-facilitators:

  • Steve Nolan, Vice President of Sales and Business Development at Advanced Thermal Solutions, Inc.,
  • Sean Sisson, Vice President North America & Latin America at RUTRONIK Electronics Worldwide
  • Bryan Teen, President at Tech Marketing;

The roundtable covers perspectives from a Manufacturer’s Representatives, Manufacturers and Distributors regarding what they think tomorrow will look like for themselves as well as the customer, how they have recently enhanced their digital online image, preparations they are making for a potential second wave of COVID-19, new and effective ways that they are communicating with their customers, and their plans for upcoming in-person meetings. Click the Sound Cloud Player below to listen in:

Thank You To Future Facilities and 6SigmaET for Sponsoring Today’s Webinar “Electronics Cooling Technologies Update: The Evolution of Thermal Management”

Our team at ATS used 6SigmaET quite a bit for a wide variety of CFD simulations. We’d like to thank them for being the sponsor of today’s webinar: “Electronics Cooling Technologies Update: The Evolution of Thermal Management

Engineering How-To: Choosing the Right Fluid to Use with Cold Plates

By Norman Quesnel, Senior Member of Marketing Staff
Advanced Thermal Solutions, Inc. (ATS)

Liquid cooling systems transfer heat up to four times better than an equal mass of air. This allows higher performance cooling to be provided with a smaller system. A liquid cooled cold plate can replace spaceconsuming heat sinks and fans and, while a liquid cold plate requires a pump, heat exchanger, tubing and plates, there are more placement choices for cold plates because they can be outside the airflow. [1]

One-time concerns over costs and leaking cold plates have greatly subsided with improved manufacturing capabilities. Today’s question isn’t “Should we use liquid cooling?” The question is “What kind of liquid should we use to help optimize performance?”

Figure 1. A Liquid Cooling System for a Desktop PC with Two Cold Plates. [2]

For liquid cold plates, the choice of working fluid is as important as choosing the hardware pieces. The wrong liquid can lead to poor heat transfer, clogging, and even system failure. A proper heat transfer fluid should provide compatibility with system’s metals, high thermal conductivity and specific heat, low viscosity, low freezing point, high flash point, low corrosivity, low toxicity, and thermal stability. [3]


Today, despite many refinements in liquid cold plate designs, coolant options have stayed relatively limited. In many cases, regular water will do, but water-with-additives and other types of fluids are available and more appropriate for certain applications. Here is a look at these coolant choices and where they are best suited.

Basic Cooling Choices

While water provides superior cooling performance in a cold plate, it is not always practical to use because of its low freezing temperature. Additives such as glycol are often needed to change a coolant’s characteristics to better suit a cold plate’s operating environment.

In fact, temperature range requirements are the main consideration for a cold plate fluid. Some fluids freeze at lower temperatures than water, but have lower heat transfer capability. The selected fluid also must be compatible with the cold plate’s internal metals to limit any potential for corrosion.

Table 1 below shows how the most common cold plate fluids match up to the metals in different cold plate designs.

Table 1: Compatibility Match-ups of Common Cold Plate Metals and Cooling Fluids [1]

The choices of cold plate coolants will obviously have varied properties. Some of the differences between fluids are less relevant to optimizing cold plate performance, but many properties should be compared. Tables 2 and 3 show the properties of some common coolants.

Tables 2 and 3. Comparisons of Properties of Typical Electronic Coolants. [4]

An excellent review of common cold plate fluids is provided by Lytron, an OEM of cold plates and other cooling devices. The following condenses fluid descriptions taken from Lytron’s literature. [5]

The most commonly used coolants for liquid cooling applications today are:

  • Water
  • Deionized Water
  • Inhibited Glycol and Water Solutions
  • Dielectric Fluids

Water – Water has high heat capacity and thermal conductivity. It is compatible with copper, which is one of the best heat transfer materials to use for your fluid path. Facility water or tap water is likely to contain impurities that can cause corrosion in the liquid cooling loop and/or clog fluid channels. Therefore, using good quality water is recommended in order to minimize corrosion and optimize thermal performance. If you determine that your facility water or tap water contains a larger percentage of minerals, salts, or other impurities, you can either filter the water or you can opt to purchase filtered or deionized water. [5,6]

Deionized Water – The deionization process removes harmful minerals, salts, and other impurities that can cause corrosion or scale formation. Compared to tap water and most fluids, deionized water has a high resistivity. Deionized water is an excellent insulator, and is used in the manufacturing of electrical components where parts must be electrically isolated. However, as water’s resistivity increases, its corrosivity increases as well. When using deionized water in cold plates or heat exchangers, stainless steel tubing is recommended. [5, 7]

Inhibited Glycol and Water Solutions – The two types of glycol most commonly used for liquid cooling applications are ethylene glycol and water (EGW) and propylene glycol and water (PGW) solutions. Ethylene glycol has desirable thermal properties, including a high boiling point, low freezing point, stability over a wide range of temperatures, and high specific heat and thermal conductivity. It also has a low viscosity and, therefore, reduced pumping requirements. Although EGW has more desirable physical properties than PGW, PGW is used in applications where toxicity might be a concern. PGW is generally recognized as safe for use in food or food processing applications, and can also be used in enclosed spaces. [5, 8]

Dielectric Fluid – A dielectric fluid is non-conductive and therefore preferred over water when working with sensitive electronics. Perfluorinated carbons, such as 3M’s dielectric fluid Fluorinert™, are non-flammable, non-explosive, and thermally stable over a wide range of operating temperatures. Although deionized water is also non-conductive, Fluorinert™ is less corrosive than deionized water. However, it has a much lower thermal conductivity and much higher price. PAO is a synthetic hydrocarbon used for its dielectric properties and wide range of operating temperatures. For example, the fire control radars on today’s jet fighters are liquid-cooled using PAO. For testing cold plates and heat exchangers that will use PAO as the heat transfer fluid, PAO-compatible recirculating chillers are available. Like perfluorinated carbons, PAO has much lower thermal conductivity than water. [5, 9]

Conclusion

Water, deionized water, glycol/water solutions, and dielectric fluids such as fluorocarbons and PAO are the heat transfer fluids most commonly used in high performance liquid cooling applications.

It is important to select a heat transfer fluid that is compatible with your fluid path, offers corrosion protection or minimal risk of corrosion, and meets your application’s specific requirements. With the right chemistry, your heat transfer fluid can provide very effective cooling for your liquid cooling loop.

References

[1] https://www.aavid.com/product-group/liquidcoldplates/fluid

[2] http://semi-therm.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/How-to-design-liquid-cooled-system.pdf

[3] Mohapatra, Satish C., “An Overview of Liquid Coolants for Electronics Cooling,” ElectronicsCooling, May 2006.

[4] http://www.calce.umd.edu/whats_new/2012/Presentations/David %20Saums%20PPt.pdf

[5] http://www.lytron.com/Tools-and-Technical-Reference/Application-Notes/The-Best-Heat-TransferFluids-for-Liquid-Cooling

[6] https://www.thereadystore.com/5-gallon-collapsible-water-container

[7] https://www.amazon.co.uk/IONISED-WATER-Mineralised-DeionisedDistilled/dp/B00X30JKGY/ref=pd_lpo_vtph_263_tr_t_2?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=QNAM8H7J8R 1AEDP8W5FF

[8] http://www.rhomarwater.com/products/catalog/envirogard-heat-transfer-fluid-antifreeze

[9] http://www.skygeek.com/anderol-royco-602-cooling-fluid.html