Engineers at the University of Alabama in Huntsville are testing and optimizing a passive cooling system for computer processors that they believe could save U.S. consumers more than $6.3 billion a year in energy costs associated with running their computer cooling fans.

In the passive system’s convection cycle, heat from the computer processor vaporizes a liquid called “Fluorinet FC-72”. FC-72 is an electronic cooling liquid and electrical insulator. It is a colourless, odourless, biologically inert and chemically stable dielectric liquid that is not flammable and has a boiling point at 56ºC, which is ideal for computer processor cooling.

The vaporized CC-72 moves to a heat exchanger, releases its heat into the environment and condenses into a heavier liquid. It then moves to a holding tank, from which the liquid travels to the processor once again to complete the cycle.

The passive cooling system eliminates the need for fan cooling. This not only saves material costs but eliminates the noise, vibration and dust contamination associated with fan cooling.

Optimized liquid passive cooling has a range of potential applications beyond computers. It could prove useful in temperature stabilization of electronic guidance and propulsion controls in space, as well as finding application in efficient power delivery systems.