‘Sandia Cooler’ Wins R&D 100 Award
Sandia National Laboratories researchers—competing in an international pool of universities, corporations and government labs—captured four prestigious R&D 100 Awards in this year’s contest. Among the technologies honored is a “revolutionary” heatsink technology with applications in cooling CPUs at data centers and LED lighting. There are reports that the “Sandia Cooler” has already been licensed to an unnamed LED lighting company.
R&D Magazine presents the R&D 100 Awards each year to researchers whom its editors and independent judging panels determine have developed the year’s 100 most outstanding advances in applied technologies. The awards, with their focus on practical impact rather than pure research, reward entrants on their products’ design, development, testing and production. The Chicago Tribune once described the contest as “the Oscars of invention.”
The Sandia Cooler, also known as the Air Bearing Heat Exchanger, will significantly reduce the energy needed to cool the processor chips in data centers and large-scale computing environments, according to Sandia researcher Jeff Koplow. The fanless heatsink also offers benefits in other applications where thermal management and energy efficiency are important, particularly heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) and LED lighting. Koplow said that if Air Bearing Heat Exchanger technology proves amenable to size scaling, it has the potential to decrease overall electrical power consumption in the US by more than seven percent.
With the Sandia Cooler, heat from a conventional CPU cooler is efficiently transferred across a narrow air gap from a stationary base to a floating, rotating structure. The normally stagnant boundary layer of air enveloping the cooling fins is subjected to a powerful centrifugal pumping effect, causing the boundary layer thickness to be reduced to ten times thinner than normal.
“Congratulations to this year’s R&D 100 award winners,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “The research and development at the Department of Energy’s laboratories continues to help the nation meet our energy challenges, strengthen our national security and improve our economic competitiveness.” Researchers at DOE labs received 36 awards all together. An awards banquet will be held November 1 in Orlando, Florida.
Sandia National Laboratories is a multi-program laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin company, for the US Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Livermore, California, Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies and economic competitiveness.