'Wet computing' lets you submerge electronics for cooling without frying them
Researchers at the University of Leeds managed to reduce the energy consumption for cooling by between 80 percent and 97 percent—a not-so-insignificant amount. How? By dunking the electronic components in a liquid coolant.
Normally, electronics and liquids don't mix—just ask your laptop after you douse it with your morning cup of coffee. But Dr. Jon Summers, who leads the team of researchers responsible for this attempt, says that the liquid they're using is amazing stuff. Unlike most other liquids, 3M Novec, the non-flammable coolant that the Leeds team used, does not conduct electricity. This means that it shouldn't fry electronic equipment that comes in contact with it.
Liquid-cooled computers aren't exactly a completely unknown phenomenon. We've seen mineral oil in a variety of awesome casemods before. That said, the most impressive thing about this attempt is exactly how much energy is being saved here.
According to the researchers, this liquid coolant system is a "silent, next-generation liquid cooling process that relies on the natural convection of heat," which should be good news to anyone who can't stand the incessant humming of computer fans.
The Icetope system reportedly uses just 80 watts of power and is capable of functioning without normal data center facilities like air-conditioning, humidity control systems and air purification. To put that in perspective, that's only about as much as what a standard light bulb uses. Meanwhile, a Falcon Northwest Tiki gaming system that PCWorld tested last summer has a 450-watt power supply. Not bad.