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ABOGADO, Czarina O.


Application of Thermodynamics: Liquid-Cooling System for PC Heat is typical output in most electronic devices. In this term paper in particular, I will discuss the heat projected by computers. The heat which is generated by computers depends on its model and specifications. It is normal to think that computers with higher performance generate more heat than those computers with lower performance. So which computer components generate heat the most? Typically speaking for desktop computers, the CPU generates heat thus most CPUs have a built-in fan in its casing. The CPU generates the most heat basically because it handles non-graphic processes of the system from number computations in spreadsheets to text handling in word processors. Each of these processes involves dissipation of heat. Another component that generates heat is GPU or the Graphics Processing Unit which generally handles the computers graphic intensive processes. In particular terms, GPU handles the graphics in video games most especially the 3D renderings. Other components that generates a lot of heat in the system are HDD (Hard Disk Drive) and ODD (Optical Disc Drive). In a more technical side of this heat generation, a computers microchip is basically the one creating heat in the system. Thousands of transistors are contained inside a microchip and these transistors work as electrical switches which go on and off. Through this constant change of state, electricity moves around in the microchip. Based on this concept, it can be stated that the more transistors a microchip contains, the more heat it generates. So in basic knowledge, if the chip gets too hot, it will stop working.

The most typical approach to lessening the heat generated by computers is through the installation of fan, although it does help but only a little. In this term paper, I will discuss how a liquid-cooling system works and how thermodynamics is actually involved in the process. The liquid-cooling system for computers works similar to the liquid-cooling system of a car. It follows a basic principle of thermodynamics which states that heats moves from warmer objects to cooler objects. As the cooler object accepts the heat, the warmer object becomes cooler. As stated in website, how stuff works, a liquid-cooling system has five major parts. I will explain each part as I go through the process of the cooling system. First off, let me explain how the microchip which I explained earlier to be the one basically generating heat in the system is cooled down through this liquid-cooling system. Of course microchip does not have a direct contact to the water because doing so will break it. In order for the water to reach the microchip, water blocks are used. This water blocks are said to be a piece of heat-conducting material thats filled with hollow tubes and channels. At the other side of the water block is a flat surface which goes on top of the microchip that is being cooled. A so-called thermal paste is placed between the water block and the microchip to improve the heat transfer between the two. To summarize this part of the system, the microchip transfers its heat to the water block. From the water block, the heat is absorbed by the water as it flows throughout the system. The next part of the system is the pump. The pump basically determines how fast the water or coolant moves in the system. If the water moves quickly, it wont be able to absorb heat as it flows. On the other hand, if the water moves slowly, the heat will build up around specific parts

of the system which might end up getting damaged. The complexity of the system plays an important role in the flow rate of the pump. To summarize this part of the system and connecting it to the previous one, the role of the pump in the system is to regulate the circulation of the water throughout the system. The flow rate of the pump must be regulated well to be able to let the water absorb the heat rather than just pass it through or let it stay in one place for long. Moving on to the next part of the system is the reservoir and tubing. The reservoir simply acts as a tank for the cooling system. Although the reservoir operates as a tank, it is not filled entirely with water or coolant. Air is also essential for the circulation of heat in the system. The tubing, on the other hand, is simply where the water flows in the system. As of this part of the system, giving a summary of the process, heat is generated in the microchip and is then transferred to the water block. From the water block, water absorbs the heat and moves it to through the tubing into the radiator until it reaches the reservoir and back to the pump. Now discussing how this application involves thermodynamics, let me first refer to the first law of thermodynamics which is known as the Law of Conservation of Energy. This law states that the input energy of the system is equal to the output energy of the system. In giving a scenario for the liquid-cooling system, lets take the temperature of the water since this is where the

heat is transfer from the microchip and basically where the whole process of the cooling system happens. From the liquid-cooling system, taking the heat generated by the microchip, the water gains heat. Following the process stated earlier in the paper, the heated water goes up the radiator which well refer to as Qrad into the reservoir. The heat Qrad which was outputted into the reservoir does not only stay in the water in the reservoir but is also shared into the environment thus giving the two heat outputs of Qenv (heat given to the environment) and Qres (heat given to the reservoir). Through the first law which states Ein = Eout we can generate a thermal equation of Qrad = Qenv + Qres. Both sides of the equation are positive because energy was absorbed and not rejected. After going through the first law, Id discuss the liquid-cooling system in terms of the second law of thermodynamics which as stated by Clausius that a system operating in a thermodynamic cycle cannot transfer energy (heat) from a cooler body to a hotter body and produce no other effect on the universe. Therefore, this statement clearly says that energy will only flow from a hotter body to a lower body. In the liquid-cooling system, it is obviously stated that the heat from the microchip which goes through the radiator on its way to the reservoir and environment. Of course the heat sent to the reservoir does not entirely heat up the water of the reservoir. Instead, the heat which is distributed into the reservoir and the environment adjusts its temperature to the temperature of its surroundings. Through this concept, the water in the reservoir and in the environment will only be considered hot when a huge amount of heated water is transferred from the water block into the radiator which cannot happen.

This liquid-cooling system also falls under the recently discussed topic which was the Fluid Mechanics Principles. Of course the fluid we are talking about in here is the water that carries the heat of microchip into the reservoir and environment.