Heat Sinks

Computer Heat Sink Company Licenses Fan-less Cooler Technology

Image: Sandia National Laboratories

Sandia National Laboratories announced that their Sandia Cooling technology has been licensed by two companies, bringing the Sandia Cooler heat sink much closer to the production phase.


According to the company, the redesigned architecture for the air-cooled heat exchanger “simultaneously eliminates all three drawbacks of conventional air-cooled heat exchanger technology.”

As part of the redesigned architecture, a counterclockwise-rotating structure “that combines the functionality of cooling fins with a centrifugal impeller” reportedly contributes to a significant reduction of the boundary layer thickness by subjecting dead air to a centrifugal pumping effect.

In addition, according to Sandia, high-speed rotation prevents the issue of heat exchanger fouling and “the direct drive advantage,” in which relative motion between the cooling fins and ambient air is created by rotating the heat exchanger,” increases aerodynamic efficiency and reduces noise.

Now that the technology has been licensed out, the Sandia Cooler will hopefully begin to fulfill its exciting potential to contribute to smaller, quieter, and more efficient electronics.

Learn more from Sandia.

8 Responses to “Computer Heat Sink Company Licenses Fan-less Cooler Technology”

  1. Ross Wilcoxon says:

    I’m curious as to what constitutes “dust-immune”. I realize that this is floating on some forced air, but with a 0.03 mm (1 mil) gap, I wonder what kind of testing has been performed to verify that this thing wouldn’t be affected by particulates in the air. My daughter has a couple cats that I bet could give this thing a pretty hard time…

  2. MRB says:

    How is this not a fan? The blades of the fan impeller are metal – which absorbs the heat and then dissipates it rotates and produces a movement of air. Is that not a fan?

    What am I missing?

    What I see is a heat sink and a fan combined.

    I also agree with Ross, how is this dustless? Air must circulate through the “system” to dissipate the heat. Unless it is sealed completely, it is not dustless.


  3. Herman says:

    Will be interested in seeing any long term reliability test data.

  4. Whether you call this fanless or somethying else probably won’t matter, it’ll be the device’s performance which will determine its take up. I’m pretty sure that sealing of the 30micron region will not be beyond the design engineers at Sandia.
    All the Best to an interesting advance.

  5. Michael says:

    Nothing novel here. This technology is based on the decade old Scroll Oil-less Vacuum Pump technology. I agree with Ross, unless the impeller assembly has infinitely high surface tension, it’s only a matter of time before crap starts to adhere to the surface.

  6. Lord B says:

    The SNL paper covers all of this but the gap is (~0.03 mm) and the pressure within that area is going to squeeze out dirt, the forces on the heatsink keep it at that distance and any contact that does occur between the surfaces(such as bumping it) is negligable. The dust accumulation on the fins/blades may occur, but it will be entirely superficial. The force of the air through the blades essentially flings the dust off (onto other components,so keep your compressed air handy, hahaha). That isn’t to say the heat sink couldn’t be fouled, but the practicality of this design comes down to don’t throw dust bunnies in it and you’ll be fine.

  7. Jim Petroski says:

    Novel? Hardly. It’s the same design as a directional vented disc brake rotor that has been used on cars for years, with one side open. I use them on my road course track car.

    Can’t imagine it won’t foul with dust over long periods of use. You can’t depend on users not putting it somewhere where dust bunnies and other such things are not found, unless you are specifying this for clean room use.

  8. Stuart Saunders says:

    Bill is right. What is the performance?

    ∆T, ˚C/W.