Passive saltwater cooling: Better CPU performance

In the world of information technology we are constantly looking for cooling solutions more efficient, sustainable and high performance. One of the most recent and promising innovations is represented by a scheme of passive cooling based on the use of salt water. The system, known as “Hygroscopic Salt-Loaded Membrane-Encapsulated Heat Sink” (HSMHS), focuses on the use of hydroscopic salts, particularly lithium bromide, to dissipate heat generated by electronic components, improving performance and reducing environmental impact.

How passive salt water cooling works

According to researchers at City University of Hong Kong and the School of Energy and Power Engineering (Huazhong University of Science and Technology), a test computer system provided better performance by approximately 33% using the new passive cooling technology. Already the subject of a scientific publication, the work of the academic team exploits a physico-chemical process known as desorptionexploiting the properties of lithium bromide as a moisture absorber and its release during the cooling process.

The 33% improvement refers to the CPU performance achieved, compared to conventional cooling systems or previously tested alternatives.

The system employs a porous membrane that encloses lithium bromide. This membrane allows the passage of steam aqueous but retains the salt, allowing the compound to interact with the humidity present in the surrounding environment.

When the system overheats, lithium bromide absorbs moisture from the air, activating the desorption process. During the process, the salt releases water vapor through the porous membranepromoting effective heat dissipation and consequent cooling of the surface.

Passive salt water cooling

Image source: City University Hong Kong.

The benefits of passive salt water cooling

The effectiveness of the proposed system translates into a significant reduction in the temperature of the CPU and electronic components, ensuring optimal performance and reducing the risk of thermal throttling.

The self-healing feature of the system also allows the device to recharge itself cooling capacityabsorbing ambient humidity during periods of inactivity.

The use of hydroscopic salts, in particular lithium bromide, appears to be economic e sustainable, reducing operating costs and the environmental impact associated with active cooling. Therefore the approach described can become an advantageous solution especially in contexts such as data center.

Furthermore, if implemented on a large scale, this “recipe” for passive cooling has the potential to revolutionize the technological and construction scenario. The adoption of technology could in fact turn into a winning choice not only for dissipate heat generated during the operation of the CPUbut it could significantly improve the energy efficiency of buildings, with applications ranging from solar panels to batteries.

The opening image is from City University Hong Kong.


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