Microchips Provide Heat For Nearby Homes

At IBM’s Zurich lab in Switzerland, engineers are working out a new cooling system to harness all of the wasted heat energy produced by the millions of microchips in data centers to heat nearby homes. In most cases, microchips and processors are cooled by either blowing air across the chip itself or attaching a heatsink to the chip and blowing air across the heatsink. Some computer enthusiast (like me) use water cooling techniques where a continuous flow of water is run though a water block which is attached to the microprocessor. The turbulence inside the water block keeps it cool enough to see increased speeds in the actual microprocessor, however the excess heat that is transfered to the water is dissipated into the air via a radiator and fans.

Swedish scientist saw this heat byproduct as an opportunity to provide useful energy to help neighboring residences. By creating a special “microfluidic” heat sink, IBM can harness enough heat from one small data center to heat over 70 homes. The microfluidic heat sink creates a layer of constantly flowing water very close to the electronic microprocessor by using a network of increasingly fine holes through which water flows. IBM calls this a vascular microfluidic architecture; see image. The new heatsink is schedules to be announced at the CeBIT exhibition in Germany this week.

Via: New Scientist

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