Next-generation equipment for medical device, consumer electronics, fuel cell and printing applications will require more advanced and consumer friendly liquid cooling systems.
Available in either metal or plastic, a variety of connectors can suit liquid cooling applications.
Electronic equipment is getting smaller and smaller, yet generating more and more heat. As a result, the opportunities for using liquid cooled components are rising, along with the need to engineer thermal management systems that are flexible, safe and leak free.
Liquid cooling equipment circulates liquid through a cold plate to remove heat using a remote heat exchanger to maintain desired system temperature. These systems must be leak free, since even the smallest of spills can cause irreparable damage to electronics. Thermal management systems with hard-plumbed components can produce a leak-free cooling product. However, maintenance needs can require significant downtime. In addition, these systems are generally inflexible and don’t allow for design changes or extensions.
As an alternative, fluid line connectors such as quick-disconnect couplings, can be integrated to reduce maintenance issues. The amount of liquid released upon disconnect is typically negligible.
Plastic, high-flow valves incorporated into a metal housing result in a high-flow, cost-effective and durable coupling.
Quick disconnect couplings bring several advantages to liquid cooling system design:
– Easy disconnection, even under pressure.
– Better system safety with low air inclusion (the amount of air allowed into the system upon connection). This advantage eliminates the potential for a large air bubble to enter the system, which could cause inconsistent cooling and system failure.
– Easy assembly and they enable modular design.
– They can be mechanically keyed or color coded to help prevent accidental tubing misconnects.
Available in either metal or plastic, there are a variety of connectors suitable for liquid cooling applications. Each material has unique benefits, so review the entire system to determine which will work best in the final design.
Metal connectors offer durability, but there is the potential for galvanic corrosion. If the final design incorporates other components of a different metal, corrosion could jeopardize the integrity of the cooling fluid.
Be sure to consider chemical compatibility of all the components of the system.
Plastic connectors are lighter than metal couplings but offer a level of strength and durability appropriate for most low-pressure liquid cooling systems.
Some manufacturers combine metal and plastic in their connection product: plastic, high-flow valves incorporated into a metal housing result in a high-flow, cost-effective, and durable coupling.
Colder Products Co.
About the Author: Andy Hass holds a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Minnesota Institute of Technology and an MBA from the University of St. Thomas.