By adapting technology originally developed to improve air flow through jet engine compressors, GE is ushering in a new era of cooler, greener, quieter, and more energy-efficient gadgets.
GE's technology, called Dual Piezoelectric Cooling Jets (DCJ), uses pairs of ceramic plates that expand and contract as fast as 150 times per second, pumping air between them without using any bearings or motors. The devices, just 3mm tall, can "breathe like a bellows pump", and efficiently move air for cooling electronics components - as much as one cubic foot per minute. In contrast, current electronics cooling fans moving the same amount of air use twice as much energy, are twice as big, and come with a much higher manufacturing cost.
The team at GE Global Research bought a brand new laptop and switched out the fan with a DCJ device, and not only did it easily fit in the space provided (with room left over), it efficiently cooled the laptop - silently and with much less of a power draw. It's estimated that just by using the DCJ technology instead of standard cooling fans, battery life could be lengthened by as much as a half an hour.
According to GE Reports, Peter deBock, lead thermal systems engineer at GE Global Research, says this technology can be used in a variety of applications, and could enable a new generation of thinner and quieter devices:
"There are different tricks that you can do and make its smaller or larger. The concept can be scaled to whatever the needs of the application are."
Here's a quick video overview of the technology:
Instead of using a single larger fan to cool an entire device, these DCJ units can be used to address overheating directly at the component level. In addition, because there are no bearings or other moving parts, maintenance or repair of cooling components is much less than with standard electronics fans. However, knowing that dust will accumulate just about anywhere, I wonder how they will address the need to periodically clean out these tiny devices.