Throwback Thursday: Boil Your Computer with Immersion Cooling

Here’s an odd one for this week’s trip down memory lane and it harks back to a day in February 2011 when we posted a story about a company called Corvalent, an industrial motherboard and systems manufacturer who attempted a pretty cool project that used treated water to submersion-cool an entire system. It’s not the most conventional approach by to system cooling, but when you see the Core i3 processor literally simmering away inside the transparent chassis, it certain is elegant. You can check out the video from 2011 which remains available on YouTube here. The following are notes from Corvalent that explain the rationale behind the project:

This is a video of an engineering experiment we conducted cooling a computer by completely submerging it in liquid. This liquid submersion cooling system is NOT using mineral oil, or any type of oil cooling. This experiment was done using a chemical made by 3M called Novec™ 7000. It has a low boiling point, and leaves no residue or any trace whatsoever behind on the motherboard. The board was equipped with an i3 processor, running at 100% load. Very interesting cooling results, and strange to see a computer processor without a heatsink, boiling liquid to keep cool.

The idea of cooling computers through liquid submersion, has been around for about 50 years... but it has been generally reserved for the more exotic supercomputers and never really caught with mainstream users. Perhaps it's because we in the technology world are all wired at an almost primal level to believe that: "Liquid + Computers = BAD". In any case, the concept is slowly catching on, particularly with some in the video gaming community who are using mineral oils as a non-conductive liquid to totally submerge a computer in. The mineral oil idea is interesting... but I can't imagine the unholy mess that comes about when it's time to upgrade or make a change, plus, mineral oil isn't exactly the best for heat exchange.

You can watch the video from Corvalent for yourself here, as well as check out our original post from 2011 here.


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