Apple patent application reveals smart ionic wind generator cooling system

“Yesterday, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that revealed their intent to reinvent a cooling system that is known in the industry as an ionic wind generator,” Jack Purcher reports for Patently Apple.

“This type of cooling system doesn’t use a fan or heat sink,” Purcher reports. “The problem with the current design however, is that it’s only able to cool limited areas within a computer or device.”

Purcher reports, “Apple’s reinvention of the ionic wind generator will allow the system to use specialty sensors and mechanisms to redirect cool air to various areas within a computer or device, as needed. This means that it could simultaneously cool down the CPU, GPU and other components such as batteries (in the case of iOS devices and the MacBook), transformers, storage devices, and other components. Yet if the GPU or any other component isn’t being used, the system won’t waste energy trying to cool down what’s not necessary. Just think of it as a ‘smart’ cooling system.”

Much more, including Apple’s patent application illustrations, in the full article here.

23 Comments

    1. Help me out with the science here please. How is nitrogen ionized to produce ozone? Also, I am not aware that ozone exists in any other form than a gas at normal temperatures and pressures found in our atmosphere.

      I have found that many people don’t like what they don’t understand. Could it be that one of us is in that category?

      1. Well, it’s the ionized Oxygen that’s creating the Ozone, not Nitrogen. It’s been a while since high school chemistry, but if I remember correctly, ionization creates an imbalance in the number number electrons, creating positive and negatively charged O₂ and O₁ molecules (also called ions), and the positive and negative attraction helps create molecular bonds to form O₃ Ozone molecules. Nitrogen and Oxygen ions might also form molecular bonds, that could result in N₂O. Nitrous Oxide is harmless in small amounts, and a lot of fun in large quantities, which is why it’s also known as laughing gas. I’m more concerned about the Ozone because it’s toxic and smells bad.

        I was doing some research in consumer air purifiers before purchasing one, and learned that air purifiers that ionized the air created varying amounts of Ozone, which is toxic at ground level. It seems like this cooling system would have the exact same problem.

    2. “Ionization” in this patent refers to adding a charge to the air, not breaking down/reforming the molecules. We’re talking about static electricity, like you get with wool sweaters or rubbing your feet on the carpet.

      I’m guessing the only reason the patent mentions nitrogen and oxygen is that those elements make up 98+% of the air.

      1. If you ionize the air, you get charged particles (ions), which are not stable. Electrons tend to jump from negative charged ions to positive charged ions to remove the charge. This can create static electricity or lightning, like you say, but it can also create ionic bonds like the ones that hold Oxygen ions together in Ozone molecules.

        The machine ionizing air is not trying to create molecular bonds, or static electricity for that matter, but ionic bonding and electricity are inevitable consequences of ionizing air.

        1. Or you could just admit that you over-reacted when you said “If a machine is ionizing Oxygen and Nitrogen from the air, it’s probably going to leak Ozone gas.” This method of cooling will not be energetic enough to produce a meaningful amount of ozone. Don’t forget that ozone is highly reactive. Any method, which made a meaningful amount of ozone inside of a computer, would corrode vital components.

          There is a web site where they talk about ozone generation using a corona discharge: “Since 85% to 95% of the electrical energy supplied to a corona discharge ozone generator produces heat, some method for heat removal is required.” Obviously Apple is not going to use something like this, as it defeats the purpose of a cooling system.

        2. Rather than get bogged down in this argument, let me point out: “Negative-ion air generators usually don’t produce much ozone and there is evidence that negative ions do clean the air and may provide health benefits.” So unless you have evidence that this patent would use a method that would produce (the same amount or) more ozone than the typical negative-ion air generator, there is little to fear.

          1. You’re right, it probably won’t generate that much ozone. There are consumer protection laws preventing the sale of any appliance that generate “unsafe” amounts of ozone.

            But, I still don’t like the idea of having anything in my living space that generates a meaningful amount of ozone. I’d prefer a completely pollutant-free cooling system if possible.

    3. do you use fly spray, deodorant, cleaners etc around your house? These are far more dangerous than small amounts of ozone. So are the insecticides and pesticides you eat on your fruit, the MSG in the packaged food and the thousands of chemicals in coffee.
      Ozone is used in water filtration in USA in some places and you breathe it in after a storm.
      Microscopic amounts of ozone possibly created by a phone? Meh

  1. This is a good idea. Fans will still be needed but, this could help reduce the frequency or speed/noise from the fans.

    Apple can also kidnap Dvorak and experiment on the gas bag to figure out how he can move massive amounts of air on a constant basis. Perhaps a biological technology gleaned from Jaba the Hut himself can be utilized? LOL

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