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Sandia's Laptop Heatpipes Closer To Market 204 writes "Laptops aren't truly portable until you can stand to sit with one on your lap for more than 30 minutes. Sandia National Labs has developed small copper 'wicks' to transport methanol--and waste heat--from one area of a computer to another, where it can be dispersed more efficiently, comfortably and compactly than with heat sinks. The technology is being licensed to an undisclosed startup." So this stuff (mentioned here previously) might soon make it to a lap near you.
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Sandia's Laptop Heatpipes Closer To Market

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  • Finally (Score:4, Funny)

    by batboy78 ( 255178 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2003 @10:15PM (#5541347) Homepage
    I'm probably going to be sterile from having my new Powerbook on my laptop all day long. It gets unbelievably hot.

    • Re:Finally (Score:2, Interesting)

      by SaraSmith ( 602197 )
      Well... I have read about a man burning his penis and scrotum fairly severely from a laptop computer (through clothes)

      So sterile may not be all ya get there.

      Wish I could remember where I read that so it didn't sound so urban legendy, even though it probably still would/is.
      • Re:Finally (Score:3, Informative)

        by Skater ( 41976 )

        Google turned this up:

        This Laptop's Too Hot to Handle [].

        Among other links. I didn't see confirmation of the story though...


      • Re:Finally (Score:3, Informative)

        by iggymanz ( 596061 )
        The story is here []

        Though I don't know why anyone would put a laptop that close to their crotch. I kept mine close to my knees and to the left so the exhaust port (on my former company's T20) dumped heat far from me. No Rocky Mountain Oysters served on my train, thanks.

        Let's call it LinGnux - Happy Birthday Richard, and thanks for the compiler & utilities that freed us.
      • Re:Finally (Score:4, Funny)

        by wo1verin3 ( 473094 ) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @01:08AM (#5542119) Homepage
        naw.. this woman calls us up (tech support for large vendor) and she goes:

        "When i my laptop on the plane it makes me wet between my legs"

        Took her a few seconds to realize what she said but had an entire floor of tech support guys cracking up =)
    • by K-Man ( 4117 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2003 @10:44PM (#5541517)
      I want to make it clear to everyone here that any reference to the "glowing cyber balls" story, however indirect, is strictly forbidden in this forum.
    • Re:Finally (Score:4, Funny)

      by dirkdidit ( 550955 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2003 @11:07PM (#5541625) Homepage
      Like you were really going to use that sperm anyway. Remember, you are a member of Slashdot.
    • Feel the burn.

      No pain no gain.

      But it still hurts so damn much!

      What I just don't get is why nobody's tried using a pillow or something. It's that fricking simple!

  • iBook (Score:4, Interesting)

    by silvakow ( 91320 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2003 @10:15PM (#5541351)
    I don't mean to sound like "that guy", but my iBook really does not have any problems with heat. I can set it on my lap for a good long while and barely notice any heat. This is one of the reasons that apple has not moved up to the G4 yet, so my computer is quite slow, but at least I never think twice about setting it on my lap for a game of mid-class Starcraft.
    • I agree, I have no problem with any laptops on my lap. Sure it may get a little warm but not hot. Of course I wear pants regularly so others results my vary. I don't guarentee the same results for naked people or partially clothed people.
    • ya...but wait until you try and have kids. You just think your laptop is safe. :)
    • Aren't the new 12" Titaniums generating more heat than its 15" and 17" brothers? Or so i've heard on TechTV. The larger ones are supposedly fine.
    • Um, no. Apple haven't moved the iBook to G4 because they need to differentiate the 12" Powerbook somehow. Nearly worked too, I was way close to plonking down the money for a Powerbook and got an iBook instead.

      Very happy I am with it too.

    • I notice practically no heat at all from my iBook even after an hour of constant use. Compare that to my old Dell P3-400mhz, which would begin burning my leg after about a half hour. This is my first Apple product, and I really have to hand it to them with the iBook, a very usable, durable, comfortable laptop.
    • I'd have to sadly say that my old 5300 PB (100 Hot Screamin PowerPc Megalazyhertz) gets kinda uncomfortably warm after playing Quake 3 for five or six hours on the battery.

      Ok. Really its 256 color Civilization. And my crappy batteries last for 2 hours at best.

      But the warm part is true. *sniff*

  • non-waste heat? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by heldlikesound ( 132717 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2003 @10:17PM (#5541359) Homepage
    Is there such thing as computer heat that is not waste? Unless you are recycling the heat somehow, which seems unfeasable, it seems that all heat would be waste.
    • Well I don't know about computer heat, but it seems to me that any heat produced by a space heater couldn't be considered waste heat. Couldn't any device achieve 100% energy efficiency so long as you redefine the device's task to include providing heat?
      • Yes, you are correct. However it wouldn't achieve 100% exergy. [].

        Basically if you use (say) a flame at 2000F to heat a factory at 70F you are wasting a lot of potential energy. You could, for example, run a gas turbine generator at 2000F and then use the 300F waste heat from that to warm the factory instead. This particular example is called 'cogeneration' and is a big way to boost energy efficiency esp. when used between two businesses such as a power plant and a plastics factory that requires moderate-t

    • Re:non-waste heat? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by neptuneb1 ( 261497 )
      The supercomputer lab I worked at for a while actually used the "waste" heat to heat the building in the winter. Sure, it was just vented during the summer, but for eight months of the year (MN has long winters) they don't have to pay for heating!
      • They still paid for heating; the electricity was just going into the supercomputer rather than into big resistors. In this case, it's the first law of thermodynamics that gets you; you can't make energy (of any type) any more than you can make a 100% efficent device.
    • It's too bad the waste heat couldn't be used as a catalyst for a chemical reaction that generated power.
  • I guy I know simply uses a chunk of wood (the size of the laptop) to seat his laptop in his lap. It not only gives it a more staple surface, but also allows him to sit comfortably without his legs overheating.

    As for myself, I don't have a laptop. Anybody donating?
  • by Bugaboo ( 266024 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2003 @10:18PM (#5541369)
    If you don't always buy the latest desktop replacement from Dell or whoever. My Toshiba Satellite Pro 4330, while getting a little long in the tooth nowadays (playing DivX movies and whatnot; I bought it in early 2001) doesn't break the 'quite warm' barrier and is comfortable for several hours of continued use, even when doing CPU-heavy things.

    So remember, not everyone's trying to shove a desktop into a laptop and burning your legs off because of it.
    • It's not just the latest and greatest from Dell. I had an old Dell CP PII-266 laptop that melted a rubberband into my coffee table. I was smart enough to keep it off my lap.
    • Yes, Dell's really bad at heat management. When I got my Thinkpad, it _was_ the latest desktop replacement from IBM and it doesn't have heat issues. It gets warmer if I'm playing a 3d game for long enough (ie, high CPU and graphics card usage) but not enough to be dangerous. It's not even marginally uncomfortable in normal usage.
  • Just wondering ... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by shayborg ( 650364 )
    If the heat isn't dispersed through the bottom, where exactly will it go? Are laptops going to feel cooler because the heat is dispersed better, or is most of the heat just going to be sent out of, say, the top of the laptop cover where it's less of a nuisance?

    -- shayborg
  • Eureka (Score:2, Funny)

    The technology is being licensed to an undisclosed startup.

    So THAT's what Dick Cheney has been up to this entire time!
  • by wideBlueSkies ( 618979 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2003 @10:20PM (#5541385) Journal
    So now I can have exhaust pipes coming off my laptop? Cool.

    Can they be made to look like the pipes on a Harley []?

    Mmmmm chrome....
  • Tables? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I've got an older G4 Powerbook. It's too hot to put on my lap w/o my sketchbook underneath, but I don't know - I've never found typing with something on my lap that comfortable outside of heat issues as it is. Isn't this what tables are for?
  • by pheph ( 234655 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2003 @10:21PM (#5541393) Homepage
    Although I haven't received mine yet, I've read excellent reviews of the incredibly simple (and cheap) Laptop CoolPad []. They offer Traveller [] and Podium [] (read: big and clunky) versions... Anyone had any experience with these?
    • Couldn't you just do the same thing by leaning your laptop on a thin O'reilly book? OK, so maybe you's have to go to the craft store and spend 69 cents on rubber feet to keep the laptop from sliding.

      Beats paying $19.99. And you already HAVE the O'reilly book.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Actually, with many recent (and not so recent) laptops, well, "notebooks", it is important that there be some amount of space (that afforded by the spacing pads when sitting on a desk or table) between the bottom of the notebook and the surface it is on.

        Some actually have fans on the bottom.
      • That's what I use for my Dell Inspiron 8200.

        BTW, Sandia's way behind. Dell has been using heatpipes for close to two years (Maybe longer. The I8000 has heatpipes, so does the 8200).

        And yes, they're wicked heatpipes. Non-wicked pipes don't work when the heat source is above the heatsink, but my Dell works fine when tilted backwards.
  • by corebreech ( 469871 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2003 @10:22PM (#5541398) Journal
    Thanks, but I'll pass on this one.

    Medium-rare and well-done are adjectives I'd just as soon not see applied to my goodies.
  • Methanol? (Score:5, Funny)

    by nihilogos ( 87025 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2003 @10:28PM (#5541433)
    I'd like to see this option on Dell's site

    * Upgrade to Gin or Vodka coolant $49.95
  • by dark-br ( 473115 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2003 @10:28PM (#5541434) Homepage
    If we can't trust society with a cup of hot McDonalds coffee how can we trust people with phase change methanol?

    I can see the warnings stickered to future laptops: Do not use this laptop near an open flame. Smoking near this laptop is strictly prohibited!
    • Yeah. And guys who like to light their farts on fire are going to have a ball with this.

    • Actually.... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Acidic_Diarrhea ( 641390 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2003 @10:49PM (#5541543) Homepage Journal
      It appears that we can't trust society with information. I'm tired of everyone citing the infamous hot coffee case as the shining example of a frivolous lawsuit.

      In the case that you're "citing" (I use quotes because you obviously don't know any of the facts.) the coffee was served at 180 F. This is quite a bit hotter than one expects to receive coffee at. For a fun experiment, try brewing some coffee and taking the temperature of it. Your experiment won't yield coffee at this temperature. Second of all, the McDonalds outlet had received over 700 complaints about their coffee being too hot. Other McDonalds have not and do not receive this many complaints about their coffee. It was partially because of these complaints that McDonalds was found negligent - they had plenty of information that the coffee was too hot but chose to ignore it because it was considered better for business to keep the coffee hot at all times so fewer fresh pots would have to be made. Furthermore, the woman in question (79 years old when the incident occured - your typical "victim" looking to get rich quick, right? Oh wait, she'd never filed a lawsuit before in her life.) received third degree burns on her groin, thighs, and buttocks. These burns required skin grafts and an extended stay in the hospital. The woman racked up medicals bill as a result of this. The award was also reduced from the original 2.6 million dollar settlement to 480,000 dollars.

      Understanding law isn't quite as easy as just reading some headlines Mohammed.

  • but (Score:5, Funny)

    by xao gypsie ( 641755 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2003 @10:29PM (#5541438)
    but that takes away from the good ol' days of snuggling by the laptop on a cold winter's night, surfing the internet wishing the laptop was a woman and the heat source was a real fire......*sigh* lonely...

  • Whith all these heat sources and readily available combustible fuels around its only a matter of time before one of these computer heads is gonna get torched.
  • by rice_burners_suck ( 243660 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2003 @10:29PM (#5541443)
    What I would like to see is a laptop that doesn't burn up in the first place. I have one of those Sony laptops where an internal fan comes on when it begins to overheat. The hotter the computer gets, the faster (and louder) this fan becomes. It is actually quite annoying.

    Now I find it acceptable that a computer can heat up somewhat during computationally intensive functions, like performing a huge batch job with Photoshop or something, but what annoys me a lot about this fan thing is that it seems to come on at the darnedest times. For example, if some application crashes, the fan comes on, then goes faster, then goes even faster, and finally it's spinning at its maximum speed, which sounds like a bunch of banshees flying around when there are heavy winds. All of this while the computer remains totally unresponsive to any input.

    This has annoyed me so much on many occasions that I often consider disassembling the computer and removing that stupid fan. Yeah, it'll overheat, but at least I don't have to listen to that shit.

    My suggestion, as far as heat is concerned, is that laptops can be built utilizing processors that use little energy and stay cool. Yes, these are much slower than your Pentium CXXVCVXIIIXCIX, but if you put about 5 of them in there, it won't be so bad. In fact, it might even be a bit faster in some cases. I wish people would consider that. What annoys me the most about this is that the computer seems to heat up during computing-intensive

    • The best part of using heat pipes is that you can seal the box better and vent the heat where you choose. Heat pipes are increadibly conductive (up to approx 3000x the conductivity of copper). Fans are a problem because the draw dust etc into the laptop. This can form an insulating layer which prevents good heat transfer.

      I agree with your sentiments that laptops should not heat up. Basically this is mainly an x86 problem. With more efficient code and using cooler chips (ARM, MIPS,...) you have a far better

    • I have a Sony with the same variable-speed fan. Best part is playing GTA [] on the thing. As I speed up, the fan speeds up right along with me.
    • My suggestion, as far as heat is concerned, is that laptops can be built utilizing processors that use little energy and stay cool. Yes, these are much slower than your Pentium CXXVCVXIIIXCIX

      Actually, there is nothing stopping low power processors from being just as fast, if not faster, than the hi-heat x86 processors. The only problem is that the price goes up. No more 2GHz processor for $50. The current line of Alphas are good examples.

      That's the great thing about using open source software. You are

  • by teamhasnoi ( 554944 ) <> on Tuesday March 18, 2003 @10:31PM (#5541446) Journal
    Here in Minnesota, we like hot laptops. If your G4 Powerbook is bothering you in your not-so-frosty climes, please send it to me.

    You will have done a good deed, and have the satifaction that some Minnesota girl is removing some of her clothing while using your old hardware. After me, that is.

  • by Myriad ( 89793 ) <> on Tuesday March 18, 2003 @10:31PM (#5541449) Homepage
    Laptops aren't truly portable until you can stand to sit with one on your lap for more than 30 minutes.

    Wait a sec... isn't getting all hot and bothered down there supposed to be a good thing?

    What? It's not? Do what with a girl?.....ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh I get it! So you're saying I've had it all wrong all this time? Damn...

    Blockwars []: a realtime, head-to-head game similar to Tetris.

  • by anonymous loser ( 58627 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2003 @10:36PM (#5541482)
    I have a Sharp MV12W [] and have had no trouble sitting for many hours (usually all day in my current situation) with it on my lap, even wearing shorts.

    That being said, my previous laptop (or craptop, as I like to think of it) was a Dell 8000 series. Not only did the thing weigh a metric ton, it also produced enough heat to fry eggs.

    The only thing I sorta regret with my current laptop is the lack of screen real estate. However, given that the screen size on the Dell actually prohibited me from opening the thing up all the way on an airplane (unless I was in first class), and the travelling weight of my current laptop is less than half (nearly 1/3)of the Dell, it's a trade-off I'm more than willing to make.

  • Heh (Score:2, Funny)

    Heatpipes? I wonder how many people are going to find this story while searching for .. uh.. adult stories.
  • Mmmmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by NiftyNews ( 537829 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2003 @10:43PM (#5541510) Homepage
    Maybe someone will create a heat-sink mod that transfer the heat to a tiny griddle instead.

    Mmmm....laptop steak.
    • Nah, just transfer it equally to the screen and the keyboard and turn your laptop into a George Foreman Grill.

      Although, maybe the grill marks from a keyboard would be better suited to waffles.
  • I have this crappy IBM ThinkPad. It MUST wiegh at least 13 pounds and its battery nw lasts about 15 minutes..... Its the uglist peice of crap the universe has ever produced....But i still use it =)

    I refuse to get in iBook, it just SCREAMS "I'm a fruit." I need something ugly, like another thinkpad.....
  • by esoteric0 ( 105786 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2003 @10:50PM (#5541546)
    the lcd imac (and i think the Tibook aslo) already uses heat pipes. sandia is way behind.
    • by v1 ( 525388 )
      Just lift the keyboard up on the tibook and you'll see five heat pipes running away from the processor heat sink. They go to various parts of the computer, and usually end bonded to a metal plate with holes in it, to dissipate the heat. I don't know if these are the same type of heat pipe the original poster is describing, but they serve the same purpose.

      My previous powerbook, a 1998 "wallstreet", had no heat pipes, but used the keyboard to dissipate CPU heat. The back side of the keyboard was aluminum,
  • Funny. Not as many references to the burnt genitals story as I thought there would be.
  • Ignorant question? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Peapod ( 568493 )
    This might be an ignorant question, but what happenes if you tilt it. No, granted, its sealed, but what if for some reason, you have it operating at some angle or you have it upside down. I realize this is not terribly common of a problem, but nevertheless. Probably a stupid question anyway.
    • by ejaw5 ( 570071 )
      you mean not operating the laptop flat on your lap? interesting, to me using a laptop on your lap is sort of a balancing act. you got to have the base at the right position, and screen open not too far so it won't jump off your lap as soon as you take your hands off the keyboard. Then you have to also compensate for air openings on the side (or God forbid on the bottom), make sure your clothing don't block them.
    • by NoData ( 9132 ) <> on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @12:01AM (#5541874)
      This might be an ignorant question, but what happenes if you tilt it.

      Nothing, I think. These tubes will be less than the thickness of a human hair (according the article), so flow will be much more governed by capillary action and pressure gradients produced by heat differences.
    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )
      nothing, heatpipes are not dependand on gravity(thats why they got that wick inside, and thats what they claim).

      on a sidenote however, i could just swear that this is just some companys hop in announcement to the market and nothing totally _new_ as many laptops ALREADY have these, and it's not about cooler running laptops either, it's just moving the heat to another place from the components.
  • My Dell laptop has heat pipes to move heat from the CPU out to a radiator in the back. Maybe this is more efficient than the ones we already have? I couldn't tell from the article.
  • by n1ywb ( 555767 )
    Methanol is a highly reactive, flamable, and toxic chemical. You thought spontaniously combusting laptops were bad before? Now're you're carrying around rocket fuel to boot. I wonder if they'd even allow one of these on an airplane? It can be absorbed right through your skin and cause permanent eye and liver damage. I don't understand why they can't use a less flamable/reactive/toxic alcohol, like ethanol or isopropanol.
    • Without digging out my thermo book (so I could be wrong), I'd say that methanol had the most ideal heat removal properties for this application. Also, this scheme uses wicks smaller than the diameter of human hair. The volume is very very small so the amount of methanol (should it leak, and I guarantee you it's a sealed system.) that could affect you is microscopic. Also, my girlfriend (who's a chemist) tells me that the physiological effects you describe require large quantities of methanol and/or repea
    • Fuel cell batteries for laptops which use methanol (dilluted with H2O) as the primary fuel source are already approved for use on commerical airplanes.
  • small copper 'wicks' to transport methanol ... from one area of a computer to another where it can be dispersed more efficiently, comfortably and compactly

    I hope they can extend their technique to ethanol. And make it work for humans. Then we'll have a killer.

  • Is this possible to use this heat (for recharging batteries for instance) instead of dispersing it.
    It is energy after all.
  • Heatpipes rock (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Trogre ( 513942 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2003 @11:21PM (#5541691) Homepage
    The heatpipe attached to my Athlon cpu works pretty well. The temperature drop after replacing my AMD fan/heatsink combo was between 5 and 10 degrees C.

    • A drop of 10 degrees is nice - now its only 70 degrees C!
  • More info here (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bugnuts ( 94678 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2003 @11:27PM (#5541711) Journal
    more info []

    They have thought of redirecting the heat for "hand warmers" but one of the things heat pipes really buys you is lack of moving parts and fan requirements... in other words, you can use it for silent or even a waterproof computer.

  • Ok so cooling down the CPU will make it more comfy on the lap, but with gigahertz plus CPUs shouldn't we be worried about the radiation???

    That guy whos penis was burnt... he apparently didn't feel any heating up and the blistering ocurred some time after using the laptop.

    Doesn't sound like heat burns to me; more like the sort of thing radar techos used to get in the days before people figured out that you shouldn't stand too close to an active radar system...
    • The amount of microwave radiation emitting from these things is insignificant.

      For one, only the CPU core is running in the GHz range. This is a very small area, and doesn't make a good antenna.

      For another, almost all of those high-frequency paths are terminated. As a result all of the power goes into some sort of load (Often the gate of the next transistor), and gets converted to heat and not radiated as RF. You can confirm this by measuring the power input of a CPU and its heat output - Almost all of
  • by BlueFall ( 141123 ) on Wednesday March 19, 2003 @02:05AM (#5542318)
    Why can't the heat be used to recharge the battery and give it a longer run time? Seems like this just throws away energy...
    • by karlm ( 158591 )
      Energy must be thrown away in any system consuming energy at steady state. See second law of thermodynamics.

      If you put a heat engine on the CPU, you reduce energy transfer versus a heatsink/heatpipe. You coul recover a small percentage of the power, but it's really not worth it.

  • I don't see what the big deal is. My IBM T20 gets no more than a little warm, even when doing CPU-intensive stuff.

    One of the problems is this stupid race to the most megahertz. Hardly anyone needs a computer that fast, let alone a laptop. How many of you are doing 3D rendering, professional Photoshop work, or heavy duty web/database serving from your laptop? The first two practically require a CRT, the third just doesn't happen in the real world. And wanker gamers don't count...
    • How many of you are doing 3D rendering, professional Photoshop work, or heavy duty web/database serving from your laptop?
      I've got 2 out of 3 (well, not *pro* Photoshop work, but amatuar GIMPing :) I also do lots of compiling and engineering modeling, so that's 4 out of 3. I need to use a laptop because a) I'm in a dorm and I need the mobility, b) you can't get 133dpi LCDs (awesome for reading text) on desktops, and c) I got to LAN parties and it's uber-cool when you can jus
  • Quite suprised to see no one is connecting the two separate but obviously related disciplines of research. This is /.

    Fuel-Cell Power With Methanol []

    So it would be interesting to see how these two areas could be combined or at least cross developed.
  • Laptops aren't truly portable until you can stand to sit with one on your lap for more than 30 minutes

    Well maybe errors are just par for the course, but laptops are already VERY portable. They are truly portable. You can use them on a table and not feel the heat at all.

    The paragraph should read: laptops aren't truly LAP TOPS until you can stand to sit with one on your lap for more than 30 minutes. Because, they are already perfectly portable.

  • Of interest to the military (to whom small moving parts are a potentially life-threatening annoyance)


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