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2/23/2011 Basics of Heat Transfer - Water cooling…

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As the First Law of Thermodynamic s implies, matter and energy can not be c reated or
Ac cessories
destroyed (only converted between the two). Likewise, heat-the movement of energy
Cooling Blocks from a hotter object to a cooler object-is never eliminated, but only moved elsewhere.
This is the role of all c ooling systems.
Cooling Systems
Fans, Grills To acc omplish this, there are three primary modes of heat transfer. Some forms of
transfer can be duplic ated using multiple methods (both natural and forc ed), but every
Fittings, Nozzles cooling system uses these same basic processes:
Heat Exc hangers
Liquid Coolant
LN2, DICE Conduction - the transfer of heat through matter with no net
displacement of the matter
Power Supplies
Replacement Parts
Software, Controllers
Tubing Convection - the c irculatory motion of a gas or liquid c aused
Tubing Wrap by the variation of its density and the action of gravity

Valves, Fill Ports

Radiation - the process of transferring heat by emitting

G P U H ole S pac ing
electromagnetic energy in the form of waves or particles

Q uic k D is c onnec t H elp Thermal Conductivity

Thermal Conduc tivity is the amount of heat a particular substance c an carry through it
in unit time. Usually expressed in W/(mK), the units represent how many Watts of heat
can be c onducted through a one meter thic kness of said material with a one Kelvin
temperature difference between the two ends.
V G A C ard P hotos
(Note: "Thermal Conductivity" is the measure of heat flowing through a length, not to be
confused with "Thermal Conductance", which is the measure of heat though a surface.)

Solids Liquids Gases

Diamond 1000 - 2500 Merc ury 8.3 Hydrogen 0.18
Silver 429 Water 0.67 Helium 0.15
Copper 401 3M Flourinert Fc -430.66 Air 0.026
Gold 318 Methanol 0.25 Nitrogen 0.025
Aluminum 237 Glycol, Antifreeze 0.25 Oxygen 0.023
Brass (37/15 Cu/Zn)159 Ethanol 0.14
Iron, pure 80.4 Liquid Nitrogen 0.14
Carbon Steel 54
Bronze 50
Lead 35.3
Titanium, pure 21.9
Stainless Steel 16.3
Ice (H2O @ -5°C) 1.6
Glass 1.2 - 1.4
Concrete 1.1
Rubber 0.16
Wood 0.12 - 0.04

Specific Heat Capacity

Specific Heat Capacity is the amount of heat a particular substance can hold. Typic ally
expressed in KJ/(kgK), the rate depic ts how many kilojoules of energy are required to
change the temperature of one kilogram of said substance by one Kelvin.

Solids Liquids Gases

Human Body 3.47 Water 4.184 Hydrogen 14.32
Concrete 3.3 Methanol 2.55 Helium 5.23
Ice (H2O @ -5°C) 2.1 Ethanol 2.48 Steam (at 110°C) 1.97
Wood 1.7 - 2.7 Glycol, Antifreeze 2.38 Nitrogen 1.04
Rubber 1.6 Liquid Nitrogen 2.04 Air (at 100°C) 1.0
Benzene 1.72 Oxygen 0.91…/002.html 1/2
2/23/2011 Basics of Heat Transfer - Water cooling…
Aluminum 0.89 3M Flourinert FC-431.47
Glass 0.84 Freon 11 0.87
Carbon 0.71 Merc ury 0.14
Diamond 0.50
Iron / Steel 0.45
Copper 0.39
Silver 0.23
Lead 0.13
Gold 0.13

What do all of these numbers mean in a liquid c ooling system?

The above thermal conductivity shows why copper is the preferred cold plate material
for c ooling systems. It is extremely c lose to silver in performance at a fraction of the
cost. Like most metals however, c opper doesn't hold heat for very long-- it needs to be
absorbed by something else.

The spec ific heat capac ities show water to be the best liquid for holding heat.
Practic ally, it is also the best for transferring it.

This would indicate the ideal configuration is to use copper to transfer heat from the
processor, and to use water to absorb and move away the heat. Although there are
many other factors involved, here you have the basic foundation of a liquid cooling

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