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Fan Blades Are The Heatsink - Sandia National Labs Air Bearing Heatsink
Mon Aug 26, 2013 | 5:44P | PermaLink BY: Max Page
NEW - An August 2013 Update has been posted here.

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The point of this three piece prototype spinning aluminum impeller heatsink from Sandia National Labs is to get rid of boundary layers by exploiting a fairly obscure fluid dynamic effect first discussed in the 1950's, where by boundary layers are substantially thinned above the surface of accelerating bodies (ie. radial fins on a disk rapidly spinning). In this case, the aluminum cooling fins - the fan impeller - are spinning at 2000RPM. According to Sandia Labs, heat is transferred from the processor to the rotating cooling component above, across a very thin 'air bearing' - essentially a metal surface rotating a fraction of a millimeter over a similarly sized stationary surface.

Orientation Agnostic
In the video below you'll see the air bearing heatsink sitting horizontally on a table, yet if you glance at your computer tower you'll know that CPU heatsinks mostly always operate while mounted to a vertical motherboard. The Sandia cooler is orientation agnostic - meaning the air bearing is not affected by gravity and will operate vertically, upside-down or at angle because a compression spring is used to hold the impeller and base together, not gravity.

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Watch the entire video on the Sandia air bearing cooler here, it's well shot and explained.

The complete 48 pg PDF from Sandia National Laboratories researcher Jeff Koplow, titled; "A Fundamentally New Approach to Air-Cooled Heat Exchangers" is available here. The project report 'borrows' one of my photos from a Frostytech review without crediting it to Frostytech.com (pg.5, figure 1), but this technology is cool so I'll let it slide. ;) Update - received a nice apology regarding the unattributed image and all is good. :)

FULL STORY @ SANDIA NATIONAL LABRATORY
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=JWQZNXEKkaU#!)

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