AFRL Develops Better Way to Cool Electronics

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May 8, 2017 | Originally published by Date Line: May 8 on

Researchers at the Air Force Research Laboratory and a partner company have developed a way to cool the next generation of high-powered electronics —increasing capabilities of warfighters — with simple materials.

Thermal management via oscillating heat pipes are expected to enter commercial systems within the next few years. Companies such as Boeing are interested in using the technology.

The Japanese invented the concept in 1990, and the Air Force and ThermAvant Technologies, a small company in Missouri, have led the research into the application since 2011.

As computer chips gain power and decrease in size, the heat they generate is concentrated into smaller areas. That makes it harder to keep them from overheating, failing and melting nearby components.

AFRL wants to break that thermal limit so electronics can use fewer processors for the same work. Oscillating heat pipes help.