Briefs: Ionic Wind to Cool PCs

Kronos Advanced Technologies are developing a cooling process for personal computers based on an ionic wind pump. Ionic air propulsion is based on a principle called the corona discharge, an electrical discharge characterized by a corona, i.e. a halo of ionized particles in the air surrounding a charged conductor. The ionization of the gas causes the positively charged ions to accelerate towards the anode, resulting in an airflow. The principle was first mentioned 300 years ago by Francis Hauksbee, as moving air near a charged tube and it was studied by pioneers of electricity such as Newton, Faraday and Maxwell. Recent applications can be found in some air-conditioning systems, photocopying appliances, nitrogen lasers, air-purification devices for the health-care industry and sound applications for noise cancellation. According to the University of Washington, who brought their expertise to Kronos, the real challenge was to generate an efficient airflow in such small devices as PCs. The advantage of using such a system is that it is an airflow without a fan: it is more efficient than passive cooling, yet, unlike a fan, it has no moving parts which eliminates noise and reliability issues.