Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?

Ionic Cooling For Your Computer 202

master0ne writes, "We (the folks over at InventGeek) have produced the first ionic cooling system for your high-end gaming system. This system produces absolutely no noise and in fact has no moving parts at all. While this is a proof of concept, it demonstrates that you can get the CFM you need to cool a system efficiently with no moving parts and no increase in power consumption."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Ionic Cooling For Your Computer

Comments Filter:
  • laptop use (Score:2, Insightful)

    This could be great for laptop uses. Desktop replacements could probably run a heck of a lot cooler now.
    • Why would you want high voltage in a flimsy platic box on your lap?
      • by lewp ( 95638 ) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @11:45PM (#16127741) Journal
        Baby, my lap is high voltage.
      • Re:laptop use (Score:4, Informative)

        by BRTB ( 30272 ) <slashdot@brt b . org> on Sunday September 17, 2006 @11:50PM (#16127763) Homepage
        You already do. The backlight inverter in the LCD screen produces several thousand V(rms) initially to fire up the fluorescent tube, and somewhere in the high hundreds of volts while in operation. []
        • I seem to remember something like 'it's not the volts, but the AMPS that will kill you' in reference to electrical appliances. Is this correct?
          • by Vihai ( 668734 )

            Neither. In first approximation it's the current by time with a lower limit on the current (30 mA).

            When you feel a static discharge, you are actually feeling a lot more current than the one needed to kill, just for not enough time.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by mazarin5 ( 309432 )
              current by time with a lower limit on the current (30 mA).

              By that I presume you mean charge by time, which is current.

              By introducing a large amount of charge to your body, you get a large difference in potential, which will have to discharge somewhere. However, more charge discharging in a short amount of time can be very damaging to meatbags like us, if for no other reason than the thermal excitation it causes along its path. Very high voltages can cause other problems, but as long as there's a low cur

  • I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vlad_petric ( 94134 ) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @10:44PM (#16127511) Homepage
    Would someone enlighten me? What is the principle behind ionic cooling? The article shows how to build it, but not why it works :).
    • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Informative)

      by macz ( 797860 ) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @10:55PM (#16127546)
      Basically the ions move the air instead of a rotating fan. ps04.html []
    • by Xzzy ( 111297 )
      Don't you watch infomercials?

      The EPA certifies "it's a newer way to clean air!" (this is an actual quote)

      Call now, and we'll give you a second one, free.
    • The sea is full of ionic coolant.
    • Obviously, liquid cooling is SOOOOOOOO 2005.
    • by The Raven ( 30575 ) on Monday September 18, 2006 @12:08AM (#16127814) Homepage
      A strong negative electric charge is put into one side of the system. This side should have many sharp points angled toward the positive side to be the most efficient. Negative charge builds up in this grid, concentrated at those points. The charge is not enough to actually arc across the air and make a spark, but it is high... high enough that electrons leap across, one by one. Actually, they're leaping across in the millions and billions per second, but they're so tiny that the effect is imperceptible.

      This 'leaping' across has always seemed like how ice sublimates into a gas... it doesn't melt into water, then evaporate, an ice cube in dry air can evaporate directly. In the case of the electrons, they don't melt and flow across (spark) they just imperceptibly leap off one by one. Yeah, it's a bad analogy, but it's the best I can think of. :-)

      As the electrons leap across the gap, they sometimes run into air molecules. When they strike, they can merge with that molecule, and turn it into an ion... this air ion now has a negative charge, and it gets drawn toward the posotive side too... pulled across, the air molecule bumps and shoves other air molecules, and you get a current of air, many of them negatively charged ions.

      This 'other side' happens to be big flat metal plates in the 'ionic breeze', but it doesn't have to be. It could be a simple grid of metal, like chicken wire or something. Anything that can carry a current, and let air blow past it.

      The charge between the two can be thousands of volts, but the current is very small. However, something getting in that gap, like a bug, could get zapped. Yeah, bug zappers are technically 'ionic breeze' machines too, but the voltage and their shape is not optimized to blow air.

      As to where I learned this... all hail Popular Mechanics. An article way back in the late 70's demonstrated these, but not to make ions... they demonstrated a grid powerful enough to take off. Imagine a perfectly silent helicopter with no moving parts, trailing a thick heavy power cable (because they couldn't generate enough electricity onboard to lift it on its own). Definitely a nifty idea.

      The Raven
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by lostguru ( 987112 )
        why do i not like the idea of something designed to fall just short of a static generator built in to my computer?

        Me, I'll stick to fans. My fans are quiet enough and my computer doesn't run that hot anyway

        • by The Raven ( 30575 ) on Monday September 18, 2006 @03:39AM (#16128424) Homepage
          I think the ionic breeze actually uses a pretty low voltage... it's not thousands of volts like it was in the PopMech article, because the breeze is a lot slower. Chances are, to save on wiring, they just have a simple 120 volts in a rectified AC pattern. That, incidentally, is also another difference with bug zappers... I'm pretty sure that bug zappers alternate which side is negative and which is positive, which means there's no breeze because it flips between pushing and pulling 60 times a second.

          For anyone who cares... making an ion wind generator is dead simple. Smooth out the AC power into DC current, pump the voltage up to around 1000 volts, and embed the negative and positive grates into a plastic fan case. The ionic breeze costs a lot, but it's pure profit for the Sharper Image. An ionic wind is cheaper to make than a normal fan.

          It is, I think, less efficient electrically than a normal fan. Not certain. It's been nearly 30 years since I made one. Mine did NOT smooth out the current, and did NOT hop up the voltage, so it was about what I think an ionic breeze is. To get the fastest breeze though I put the negative and positive sides pretty close together, so it would zap if bugs got between. My biggest problem was I didn't have any plastic spacers in it, to keep the sides apart... if it tipped over, or someone pushed on the mesh (I had nothing to prevent that either) it would short out. And, since I had no built in fuse... well. Two house outages later, my parents threw it away. :-)
          • by GWBasic ( 900357 )

            After reading your post I started looking to see if there were any examples of DIY ionic fans on the internet. So far I can't find any.

            I think I can infer your instructions from your post:

            1. Rectify househould current. (I assume you used American 120VAC, 60hz?)
            2. Mount two screens mere milimeters apart. They must be made of an electrically conduting material.
            3. Connect current to each screen.

            So, what are my chances of electrocuting myself?

          • The Ionic Breeze is an incredibly bad product. I know, I own two of them (I bought them at the same time, it's not like I hated one and bought another anyway). It uses a lot less power and has no moving parts, but the sacrifice you pay is that its actual ability to move air is greatly diminished. Which begs the question - if not having moving parts is your primary goal, why not just get a wet paper towel and hang it up in the room, hoping that dust particles will bump into it and cling to it? That's the (no
        • by Agripa ( 139780 )
          I am somewhat fuzzy on the principle of operation but a very similar setup is used on laminar flow tables and is suppose to significantly reduce any ESD hazard. On the ones I have used, there is a bar at the back of the table within the airflow that has a multitude of insulated sharp charged emitters.
    • So, I know that doesn't say much. Here's the gist of it:

      - A couple of wires that are positively charged charge the air and the particles in the air.
      - A couple of plates that come after the wires and are negatively charged pull on the positively charged air and the particulate waste in the air.
      - The air goes whizzing by (inertia, pressure, etc.), and the particles get stuck on the plates.

      That last step is where the problem will be for a computer application. These guys get covered in fuzzy, nasty, dust, an
    • "Damnit Scottie, there's no time to explain. We need more cooling!".
      "But cap'n she canno take any more".
  • I can't wait for the Ionic Breeze PC Edition! Available now for only 3 easy payments of 39.99!
  • It doesn't just move air! It purifies air! It traps the dirt 'n dust particle right onto the collection plate, keeping it out of the air you breath!

    Anyone else see that infomercial? Makes me wonder, is this thing going to trap more dust than a regular fan or is the infomercial a bunch of marketing bull? I'm betting on marketing bull, but it would be nice if cleaning it were as simple as removing the "collection plate" and wiping it.
    • Re:Ionic Breeze (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MBCook ( 132727 ) <> on Sunday September 17, 2006 @10:57PM (#16127552) Homepage

      I can't comment on the Ionic Breeze, but I can tell you the principal is perfectly sound. At my house we had an Electrostatic Air Filtration System installed, which is basically the same thing but attached to the duct work. The thing does make a noticeable difference with allergens and such (which is why we bought it).

      What they show on the commercial (about wiping one off and it being filthy) is absolutely true. About once a month (for our system) you are supposed to pull out the two filters (each about the size of the average desktop PC) and the two screens (just simple mechanical filtration for the large stuff). You stick 'em in a utility sink with some dishwashing powder shake 'em around, and then let 'em soak.

      You put in perfectly clear water, and when you lift the two filters out the stuff is a very solid grey color. It also leaves a hideous ring in the sink.

      Electrostatic air filtration really does work. I have no doubt that the Ionic Breeze systems do work (to some degree). But the principal is absolutely sound.

      • by MBCook ( 132727 )
        I just remembered (right after I posted, of course) how they move air. If I remember correctly the charge on the plates in the system causes the air (which was already charged on it's way in) to accelerate. The plates have one charge (negative?) and the air is charged the opposite way (positive?). They are naturally attracted to each-other, but since the big plates aren't going anywhere the air gets pulled in. When it gets close enough it loses it's charge but now has momentum and keeps going through (also
        • That sounds reasonable, although I question his quoted 325.00 CFM, which I saw no mention of how he measured. By comparison, most computer fans rate in the 10s of CFM, and this guy [] does 265 CFM.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        A lot of law suits flew around as a result of the Ionic Breeze, here is some [] information about it.

        Anyway, it does pull dust out of the air. The amount it actually pulls looks impressive, but is actually so insignificantly small as to almost be immeasurable (as Consumer Reports found). You need like 20 of them in your room to make a noticable difference.

        Further, they produce ozone, which then fills the room. Ozone can be harmful to people with some breathing disorders, so in some cases it actually makes t
        • by MBCook ( 132727 )

          Our house system does make those pop sounds, but since it is located next to the heater in the basement it doesn't bother anyone. I can tell you it does work, but each filter (and there are two of them) is the size of a desktop PC and is nothing but tons of fins to provide surface area. I don't know how much ozone it produces (if any) though.

          I know about those lawsuits, which is why I always get a chuckle out of the new Ionic Breeze commercials where they talk about how they added their new "Ozone Guard Te

      • by Animats ( 122034 )

        Electrostatic precipitators work fine at pulling particles out of air, but they don't provide air movement. They need a fan to push the air through them.

        Large versions [] of this technology are used at coal fired power plants to remove the particulates from the flue gases. (Doesn't help with sulfur; that takes another process.) The resulting powder is used to make cement.

    • Re:Ionic Breeze (Score:5, Informative)

      by Brett Buck ( 811747 ) on Monday September 18, 2006 @12:05AM (#16127806)
      I had an Ionic breeze, and it definitely works. It moves a fair bit of air, and it definitely takes dust out. Those plates get dirty pretty quickly, and you do just have to wipe it off.

            However, I found that it while it's silent to start with, it doesn't stay "silent. As it gets dirty, it start to buzz a little bit. Wiping the plates doesn't entirely fix it, because stuff also sticks to the other pole of the circuit. There are 4 long wires suspended in the case from top to that ionize the dust, and then the plates attract it. Eventually, the wires get dirty too, and to clean them you need to wipe them somehow. I used a bit of paper towel taped to the end of a piece of arrowshaft tubing. It's a pain to do, and while I never did it, it would be easy to break the wire.

            My ionic breeze blew the internal fuse one day, when one of the capacitors in the high-voltage power supply spewed it's guts out, and I never bothered to fix it.

              There's probably a lot better ways to cool off computer chips, I would think. A heat sink with a thermionic cooler would seem a lot more practical.

  • "We (the folks over at InventGeek) have produced the first (and last) ionic cooling system for your high-end gaming system"

  • by Digitus1337 ( 671442 ) <> on Sunday September 17, 2006 @10:53PM (#16127541) Homepage
    My current cooling system blows by comparison!
  • by geekwithsoul ( 860466 ) <> on Sunday September 17, 2006 @11:01PM (#16127566)
    For a second, I thought it said "Ironic cooling . . ."

    Hmm, I wonder if that would involve a black fly and some super-cooled chardonnay.

    Oh, wait, that wasn't ironic after all.
    • by 6Yankee ( 597075 )
      You could get fly-back, if you used it to cool a CRT. Chardonnay, I'd recommend keeping that well clear.
  • I've got a machine with the Alanis Morisette Signature-Series Ironic Cooling System. Of course, just like the unit in TFA isn't really "ionic," her's isn't ironic, either. Which makes this actually ironic! Yeah, I really do think.
  • 325 CMF? (Score:5, Funny)

    by bjackson1 ( 953136 ) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @11:06PM (#16127584)
    On the final page it indicated that this ionic system can do 325 CMF. The rest of the units are in CFM, so I am assuming it's a typo. However, how can a fanless system do 325 cubic feet per minute? I've seen ionic systems before and they have never put out anything near that amount (at least from my non scientific estimations). If so, than this is much more than just a passive solution. Unless it is 325 CMF, and it's cubic minutes per feet, but then I think that I just went crosseyed trying to think of cubic minutes.
    • by Hadlock ( 143607 )
      Well a 120mm fan does about 112cfm. This ionic breeze jobby is about 3x the height, and 1x the width, so it's plausable that it could do 3x the cfm. Unfortunately the way computer cases are designed is that 66% of the airflow is blocked by the disc drive and hard drives, with a tiny inlet (usually 80x80mm) at the bottom for the rest of the case. The apple G5 sorta gets around that by moving the drives to the back and putting 4-5 ~60mm fans on the front (some zelot will correct me with the exact specifics),
    • I think it's completely feasible. Think about it. If this [] can put out 78CFM@2000RPM, why is it so hard to imagine? For our purposes, let's say we can fit 6 fans (go with me) on the back of this case. that is 468CFM, with the fans on silent. Imagine if you sped them up. Take the same concept, make it use ions to move the air instead, and call it a day. These ionic devices have been shown to move air, however minimal. I think it can be done, unless someone else has something to show me otherwise.
    • I don't buy it.

      It's not that I don't believe this thin can push air, but the claim that this pushes the same or more air that a fan using an equal amount of energy just doesn't seem right.

      Were are the pictures or even a simple description of their test setup?

      It's not just the 325 CMF [sic] rating, there are other other genreally sloppy things about this story, like a listed project cost of $9-15. Bullshit. ONE of those "fanless" heatsinks they used would cost more than that.
      And then there's also t
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Havenwar ( 867124 )
        Actually fanless is as not having a fan attached... it still needs adequate airflow, as in for instance produced by... a fan. Usually a casefan.

        But I do agree the article in general is subpar when it comes to needed data. In order for me to take them seriously I'd have to see how they measured the airflow, a temp over time test readout, and since they included a project cost - a good breakdown of it. Also I'd like to see them adress the cleaning issue which would obviously be a bit ardous with such a system
    • by abpend ( 1003471 ) on Monday September 18, 2006 @01:28AM (#16128099)
      Perhaps CMF is cubic meters per fortnight. By my math, that's about 0.57 cubic feet per minute... they may have fooled lesser souls by using two-week -long measures of time, but we at Slashdot are much cleverer than that. Fanless, indeed.
      • by Bloater ( 12932 )
        Google agrees:

        Term: 325 cubic meters per fortnight in cubic feet per minute

        Result: 325 ((cubic meters) per fortnight) = 0.569308863 (cubic feet) per minute

        The last time I felt an ionic breeze it was barely perceptible, so that's probably right. I think you got 'em
      • It's cubic meters per femtosecond. Which is roughly 2.1*10^18 CFM.
    • 325 cfm would be changing out the air inside the case 2-5 times per SECOND. There would be howling, things flying around the room, wicked witches floating by, etc.

      If this system runs well cooled by the knockoff ionic breeze, I have a strong feeling it would also cool just fine with wishes and hopes.
    • I think that I just went crosseyed trying to think of cubic minutes..

      Do you realize what that can do to your brain []?
    • Thanks for clearing it out for me...

      Cubic Feet per Minute... now, this is a strange unit of mesure, I can't help myself, imagine tiny square feet flowing trough the breeze, weird.

      Oh, man... why can't USA people use the metric system like every other nation in the world?
  • They state a rediculously low price. How about an estimate for everything; case, PSU, memory (both for RAM and disk space), VGA heatsink, video card, etc?

    It sounds fantastic, but also, I would not be able to have a functioning computer with only 8GB of disk space. Possibly if I had it running solely as a client, but then I wouldn't even need any disk space, only lots of ram.

    Besides, who can honestly fit all of their porn onto 8GB these days?
  • Ozone anybody? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ucklak ( 755284 ) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @11:08PM (#16127594)
    Isn't this a generator of ozone?

    Doesn't this seem dangerous or is the output the same as one of those stand alone units?
    What about cleaning it?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I do believe you are correct. Ozone isn't terribly good for people and it rots rubber and a number of other things. Goto the chemistry department at your local university -- you won't find a copier machine anywhere near the labs. The ozone generated by them rots the stoppers and seals and what not.
      • Re:Ozone anybody? (Score:4, Informative)

        by ivan256 ( 17499 ) on Monday September 18, 2006 @01:01AM (#16128005)
        and it rots rubber and a number of other things

        It oxidizes copper. I wouldn't want it anywhere near my motherboard.
  • Price (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Doomstalk ( 629173 ) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @11:10PM (#16127600)
    What baffles me about this mod is that he says it costs $9 to $15, but everything including the ion generator costs more than that. If he can't get the price right, what's to say its as effective has he claims? Especially since he gives us a CFM figure, but doesn't tell us how he measured it, or give us any concrete numbers on how cool it runs.
  • Can that be a typo? I don think you can push that ammount of air with a simple ionic setup like the one described in the article...

    Anyway, it's a neat idea, but the system is setup so all the heat generating elements irradiate inside the case with a large ionic fan providing airflow. Unless the setup blows a LOT of air through the case, i'm guessing the large passive heatsinks are doing their work without a lot of help from the ionic setup. I'd also watch out for ozone generation (which can become a problem
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by zippthorne ( 748122 )
      If you can, I'm waiting for the ionic leafblower. Finally you can blow your yard trash into the neighbors yard at night without waking him up. Mwa Ha hah!
  • DAW computers (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Datamonstar ( 845886 ) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @11:27PM (#16127667)
    This would be GREAT in a audio production PC. Fans are noisy and so are liquid cooling solutions to a degree. If this could be affordable and effecient, then I could see this becoming the standard for the studio PC.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Cprossu ( 736997 )
      No it would totally suck for audio production- could you imagine the transients caused by the high frequency HV system in that ionic air cleaner? It should play hell with the circuit and make groundings unclean- plus with a audio production pc, the pc and other equipment that makes noise (not including the one's and their equipment which is actually making noise to be recorded) is isolated from the actual interior of the recording studio in the first place... but I can just see high freq wines and switchi
      • Unfortunatly, I've only recorded in a REAL studio once, and I didn't exactly get the chance to tour the place so I really wouldn't know how it'd work for a pro. For my home studio PC, however, I'd be quite willing to test it out and I'm pretty sure it's quieter than the monstrosity I have right now.
  • Will do more harm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Venik ( 915777 ) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @11:34PM (#16127695)
    In the project they use elements of a consumer air ionizer. These devices create negatively-charged ions. These are attracted by dust and smoke particles, causing the latter to fall to the ground or be attracted to positively-charged surfaces.

    "All the affected airborne particles ultimately wind up on surfaces close to the ioniser, making the area immediately surrounding the ioniser dirty..." (Wikipedia []). The more dirt sticks to the ionizer, the less air it is able to move. anufacturers of Ionic Breeze and other such devices recommend cleaning the metal plates every couple of days. This is probably not a very practical solution for a PC. However, it's an interesting experiment.
    • FTFA:

      While products like this produce more negative ion than positive and thus impart a overall negative charge to whatever they blow on, its is possible to buy a neutral ion generating power supply from for instance. These types of ion generators are used in server rooms and clean rooms all over the world as they are designed to remove pollutants from the air as well as neutralize any static buildup at all on any surface. With our ionic filter system, we need to just remove a single diode to

  • by mTor ( 18585 ) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @11:40PM (#16127723)
    These cooling systems use the same principle as ionic air purifiers. Consumer Reports did several studies and they have issued several warnings about dangerous ozone levels that these machines might create. This is the reason why I ditched my Ionic Breeze air "purifier".

    The magazine also said that people with asthma or respiratory allergies are especially sensitive to indoor ozone, an irritant that can worsen asthma, deaden sense of smell, raise sensitivity to pollen and mold, and may cause permanent lung damage.

    Read more here: Danger: Ionizing air purifiers impure []

    • Read more here: Danger: Ionizing air purifiers impure

      There may indeed be negative health effects from using such products, but I haven't seen any conclusive research, and the link you provided is little more than a CNN blurb about a Consumer Reports article.

      I'd suggest that there may be health benefits from these products, aside from the obvious "cleaner air" benefit.

      I've never owned one, but a few years ago I came across someone selling ionic purifiers who agreed to let me trial one of his units for a coup
      • When you technically think about a thunderstorm and the ionic purifier ... you should find some very basic similarities :) The scale ofcourse is slightly different, but the overall idea ...
      • by hb253 ( 764272 )

        Here's something from the EPA []

        Also, do you live in or near a big city? If yes, you may have heard of ozone warnings on hot hazy days when it is strongly recommdended that kids and the elderly stay indoors.

  • I sure hope the ions are moving, at least! Otherwise, things'll get fun when the charge causes the resistance of the air to break down.
  • Iconic (Score:4, Funny)

    by verloren ( 523497 ) on Monday September 18, 2006 @02:06AM (#16128213)
    I read the story as 'iconic' cooling system, and was looking forward to details of one of the all-time great cooling systems, one that history would long remember. Ah well.
    • by ColaMan ( 37550 )
      I've got an iconic cooling system - I get RMS over, and while he's puffing air over the heatsink, I can overclock an extra 25Mhz. You may think 25Mhz is nothing, but my 486 has never been faster! Emacs compiles a lot quicker!

      I did try ESR, but even when he was going flat out, it just got hotter. Too much hot air to start with I think. Kept getting a lot of build errors and segfaults with Emacs as well. I don't think Emacs is compatible with ESR cooling.

      (ducks and runs :P )
  • CPU choice? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Cprossu ( 736997 )
    "The main reason we chose the Intel CPU is if for some reason there was a thermal issue it will self-protect the CPU unlike AMD's" Has he been living in a cave?, it hasn't been that way since the release of the Kt333 and Nforce chipsets for socketA, and never has had any issue on socket 754 and over Also he does mention the core 2 duo, but I am still surprised that he didn't build it around one in the first place, or at least something which puts out less heat than a pentium D at 3.2ghz..... and certainly
  • Would one of these still work in a fabrication room setting, where there's less than 1 dust particle per million or so... or does it require a "dirty" air supply to actually move any air by itself?
  • by jovius ( 974690 )
    The applications of an intergalactic drive seem plentiful.
  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Monday September 18, 2006 @07:01AM (#16128798) Homepage Journal
    Corinthian or Doric cooling.

  • Er, um, how's about a little bit of the scientific method?

    IHMO it's unlikely the "ionic breeze" does much if anything useful here. Natural convection (remember "hot air rises"?) is probably the main heat-moving factor at work here.

    A real simple test: unplug the ionic "cooler" and see how much the motherboard and CPU temperatures change. My guess, very little.

  • Most of my consumer electronics that generate heat use convection for cooling. (TV, reciever, DVR, refrigerator, monitor...) They are designed so that hot air can easily rise out of the machine and be replaced by cooler air.

    Has anyone ever used convection to cool a computer? It doesn't make any noise, and it'll never wear out.

The relative importance of files depends on their cost in terms of the human effort needed to regenerate them. -- T.A. Dolotta