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Planning Ethanol submerged PC? Would it work?

Discussion in 'Modding' started by Webby63, 2 Apr 2012.

  1. Webby63

    Webby63 New Member

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    I have a question for you chemists and liquid cooling enthusiasts. Would ethanol be good for total submersion cooling? I have done some googling and from what I understand it doesn’t conduct electricity, it’s less viscous than mineral oil and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Would it pick up ions from the metal surfaces over time; like de-ionised water? If so would that cause it to short? Any ideas or thoughts would be appreciated before I just drop my pc in a bucket of it.

    Thanks
     
  2. specofdust

    specofdust Banned

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    MChem student checking in.

    Here's my immediate thoughts:

    • Ethanol is non-conductive
    • Additives to ethanol might not be non-conductive.
    • Where are you going to source your ethanol that it doesn't have additives in it?
    • Ethanol is flammable
    • You're submerging an electronic device in a highly flammable liquid
    • The specific heat capacity of ethanol is under 2.5 - the specific heat capacity of water is over 4.1. You may be better off using water cooling in raw temperature terms.
    • Ethanol has a relatively low boiling point and is volatile, and you're running it in a computer which generates hundreds of watts of heat. This means topping up regularly. This is not cheap.

    That's all I can think of for now. In short: Don't do this. Kudos for thinking it up, but really, it's a bad idea from multiple directions.

    edit: Thinking about it, the polarity of ethanol is probably going to introduce corrosion problems too, almost certainly introducing electrolytes into your system over time and causing a short circuit and possibly a big ole' fire.

    Seriously, do not go ahead with this idea, it is dangerous.
     
  3. RedManc

    RedManc New Member

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    Nothing like a straight forward answer to crush dreams ha!

    but yeah this doesn't sound like it would end well
     
  4. Webby63

    Webby63 New Member

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    Ok thanks that make sense. I had thought as long as it wasn’t sparking it would be fine but now I see that I was thinking of creating a desk Molotov… not a good idea. Any idea of a different less combustible liquid I could use?
     
  5. specofdust

    specofdust Banned

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    That's not the simplest of problems. Very large chemical companies produce very expensive liquids in an attempt to get pretty much what you want.

    I don't know any liquids that suit off the top of my head, but what I can say is you need to look for very non-polar liquids which have a high specific heat capacity. These are kind of rare.

    In general to be honest, mineral oil is probably the best bet. In general if nobody is doing something in a mature field (such as, submersion cooling) it means that it's either not useful to do other things, or that it's dangerous. In the example you picked initially, it's both.

    I have heard of people using some 3M liquids for submersion cooling, but I've also heard of quotes of thousands of dollars per litre. In general, if you want awesome cooling I'd just advise you to get water cooling. Water is amazingly good at absorbing heat - as in, there's like one thing which is better at room temperature, and it happens to be extremely corrosive. If, on the other hand, you really want to have a submerged PC for some reason, then I'd say stick with mineral oil. These won't corrode your system, they'll absorb a decent amount of heat, and they won't explode or ignite very easily at all. Also, trust me, mineral oil is a lot cheaper than pure ethanol.
     
  6. Webby63

    Webby63 New Member

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    Ok thanks, I will look in to that a bit more.
     

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