A patented passive cooling system for computer processors from the University of Alabama could save U.S. consumers more than $6.3 billion per year in energy costs associated with running their computer cooling fans. The system uses convection to circulate 3M's Fluorinert FC-72 electronic cooling liquid through channels in a computer's processor, and then into a heat sink that serves as an external radiator.
Its adoption could save computer manufacturers $540 million annually in manufacturing material costs by eliminating fans and associated wiring. Fluorinert FC-72 is a colorless, odorless, biologically inert and chemically stable dielectric liquid that is nonflammable and has a boiling point at 56 °C.
In the passive system's convection cycle, heat from the computer processor vaporizes liquid FC-72. The light vapor moves to a heat exchanger, releases its heat into the environment and condenses into a heavier liquid, then moves to a holding tank, from which the liquid travels to the processor once again to complete the cycle.