Apple's 'ionic wind generator' may one day replace mechanical computer fans

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday issued Apple a patent for a cooling system that blows ionized air through an electronic device, controlling its path by creating electromagnetic fields that can be dynamically adjusted to direct cooling where it's needed most.

Ionic Wind Pump System
Ionic wind pump with air being deflected toward critical heat zones. | Source: USPTO


Apple's U.S. Patent No. 8,305,728 for "Methods and apparatus for cooling electronic devices," describes a system in which the direction of ionized air moving through a computing device is deflected by either an electric or magnetic field. Currently, mechanical fans pull in air and push it through predetermined physical paths within a computer, usually over passive heat exchangers, and out through an exhaust port.

Driving the air in Apple's system is the ionic wind generator, basically a solid-state air mover based on "corona discharge--an electrical discharge near a charged conductor caused by the ionization of the surrounding air." The system is comprised of a corona electrode, a collector electrode and a high voltage power supply. When voltage is applied to electrodes, an electric field is created and causes particles in the surrounding air to take on a charge, or become ionized. An electric field propels the charged particles toward the collector electrode, which collide with other neutral particles as they move to create to generate "bulk air movement."

As the ionized air moves through the device, it can be deflected or redirected by a "deflection field generator," which can be a magnet or electromagnet. The magnitude of deflection is governed by the Lorentz force, or force on a charged particle from an electromagnetic field, which can be varied by the deflection field generator.

Ionic Wind Generator
Illustration of charged particles (110) colliding with neutral particles (108) as they are movedfrom the corona electrode (102) to the collector electrode (104) in an ionic wind generator.


By employing standard issue heat sensors, the ion wind pump and deflection field generator system can direct cooling air to high temperature areas like the CPU or GPU.

The system also solves another problem associated with always-on mechanical fans, the so-called "no slip" condition at the "surface and the mean free stream velocity at the outer reaches from the surface" of a component. When such a condition arises, it creates a boundary layer of air over a component, making heat transfer more difficult. By modulating the rate of deflection, or time in which air flow passes over a component, the system creates eddy currents and turbulent flows to disturb the boundary layer.

Finally, the ionized air exits the device through a vent that is in the path of the ionic pump's normal air flow.

Deflection Field Generator
Illustration of air being directed via deflection field generators.


Interestingly, the invention notes that the system is not limited to large desktops and laptops, but in mobile devices such as cell phones and media players as well.

Although such ion wind pump technologies are used in specialized industrial and laboratory settings, a solution has not yet been presented in a consumer device. Apple has shown that it is actively looking to solve issues related to cooling internal components, including noise reduction as seen with the asymmetrical fans in both MacBook Pro with Retina display models (1, 2), however it is unknown if the company will implement the solid state generator any time soon.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 38
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,506member
    Everybody knows Apple is just a design and marketing company. I wish they wouldn't waste the resources of the Patent Office with these fake ideas.
  • Reply 2 of 38
    irelandireland Posts: 17,547member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Flaneur View Post



    Everybody knows Apple is just a design and marketing company. I wish they wouldn't waste the resources of the Patent Office with these fake ideas.


     


    Sarcasm detected.

  • Reply 3 of 38
    iqatedoiqatedo Posts: 1,595member


    Corona wires can produce ozone, which is a strong oxidant and potentially damaging biologically. Guess Apple has considered this issue. Ozone is the 'metallic odour' often produced by photocopiers and laser printers, particularly when warming up.

  • Reply 4 of 38
    irelandireland Posts: 17,547member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by IQatEdo View Post


    Corona wires can produce ozone, which is a strong oxidant and potentially damaging biologically. Guess Apple has considered this issue. Ozone is the 'metallic odour' often produced by photocopiers and laser printers, particularly when warming up.



     


    Laser printer factories can cause cancer from ozone, if I recall correctly.

  • Reply 5 of 38


    At first glance I read:


    Iconic Wind Generator


    Say what?


    Aha image


     


    Anyways. Wow, controlling charged particles with EM field image what an invention.

  • Reply 6 of 38
    jd_in_sbjd_in_sb Posts: 1,483member
    nathillien wrote: »
    At first glance I read:
    Iconic Wind Generator
    Say what?
    Aha :lol:

    Anyway Wow, controlling charged particles with EM field :rolleyes: what an invention.

    Apparently you just glanced at the entire story.
  • Reply 7 of 38
    drblankdrblank Posts: 3,383member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Flaneur View Post



    Everybody knows Apple is just a design and marketing company. I wish they wouldn't waste the resources of the Patent Office with these fake ideas.


    Most companies in the technology sector are design and marketing companies.  Microsoft is a prime example, so is Dell, so is HP, so are most companies that have their products assembled in other countries.  Most clothing companies are design and marketing companies.


     


    It's a popular business model due to labor costs in other countries.  It's how a LOT of businesses are done now.


     


    Obviously, this is an idea that they think might be used in a part of their computer design.  Are you an engineer that has tested this design to come up with your conclusion that it's a fake idea? Or are you just doing it because you didn't think of it?  I'm not sure of your motives.

  • Reply 8 of 38
    drblankdrblank Posts: 3,383member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Ireland View Post


     


    Laser printer factories can cause cancer from ozone, if I recall correctly.



    This is not producing OZONE gas from what it looks like, this is more like an ionizer which are used in air purifies, a little different system. i doubt this will generate enough ozone to be noticeable.   Both kind of look the same because of wires being used, but is a slightly different system from what it states on wikipedia for Ionizers.  At least, that's my source.  I'm not an engineer, but I can read.  Anyone with REAL experience on this subject that has tested the Apple patent for ozone levels? 

  • Reply 9 of 38
    Remember Ionic Breeze from Sharper Image? No fan air purifier with the same technique. I had one of those. The problem? It needs cleaning all the time and does not clean the air effectively.
  • Reply 10 of 38
    drblankdrblank Posts: 3,383member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Flaneur View Post



    Everybody knows Apple is just a design and marketing company. I wish they wouldn't waste the resources of the Patent Office with these fake ideas.


    Do you know there are a lot of fabless semiconductor companies?  They outsource their mfg to other companies.  HP doesn't make their printers in their factories, they are made by other companies like Foxconn, same with Dell.  Most clothing companies outsource their mfg.  


     


    It's a way that companies can compete.  Nothing wrong with it, it's just a different than the typical design/mfg/market that companies typically had back in the olden days.


     


    China has been getting their "ACT" together in terms of mfg products.  They are getting quite good at it.


     


    These days, you almost HAVE to outsource your mfg.  It doesn't necessarily have to all go to China, it's just that for certain types of mfg/assembly work China is the most likely choice.

  • Reply 11 of 38
    enzosenzos Posts: 344member


    Not my field, though I do use EM-deflected ion-beam technology (mass spectrometers). Sounds like a brilliant idea. Go Apple! 

  • Reply 12 of 38

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by drblank View Post


    Are you an engineer that has tested this design to come up with your conclusion that it's a fake idea? Or are you just doing it because you didn't think of it? I'm not sure of your motives.


     


    Do you know there are a lot of fabless semiconductor companies?



     


    Whoooooosh!!

  • Reply 13 of 38
    enzosenzos Posts: 344member


    @ Ireland : Likewise, but it's not sarcasm, it's irony. Sarcasm is easy to detect, irony can be missed (esp. by Americans, who tend to take things on face value). 


    --


    "Irony must not be confused with sarcasm, which is direct: sarcasm means precisely what it says, but in a sharp, caustic, ... manner." (Partridge, Eric (1969). Usage and Abusage: A Guide to Good English.)

  • Reply 14 of 38

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by winstein2010 View Post



    Remember Ionic Breeze from Sharper Image? No fan air purifier with the same technique. I had one of those. The problem? It needs cleaning all the time and does not clean the air effectively.


     


    It does not clean the air effectively but it needs to be cleaned all the time? image


     


    I had a similar ionic air cleaner, seemed to work pretty good.

  • Reply 15 of 38

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jd_in_sb View Post





    Apparently you just glanced at the entire story.


     


    Yup, I just looked at the pictures image.


    Let's have another glance... oh I see now, well of course,this is a revolutionary leap in fooling.

  • Reply 16 of 38

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by IQatEdo View Post


    Corona wires can produce ozone, which is a strong oxidant and potentially damaging biologically. Guess Apple has considered this issue. Ozone is the 'metallic odour' often produced by photocopiers and laser printers, particularly when warming up.



    I wish I had known that when I purchased an Ionic Breeze air purifier in the early '00s. I felt like I was getting sick every time I turned it on. I only realized the problem after a couple hundred bucks a little research. not many years later, The Sharper Image was out of business.

  • Reply 17 of 38

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by winstein2010 View Post



    Remember Ionic Breeze from Sharper Image? No fan air purifier with the same technique. I had one of those. The problem? It needs cleaning all the time and does not clean the air effectively.




    It worked well enough in my opinion, but cleaning the blades was always a royal pain! If Apple is going to employ something like that, they better make it MUCH easier to clean. However, from what I've seen of this kind of technology is that it's weak, certainly no where near the kind of air pushed by today's mechanical means.

  • Reply 18 of 38
    z3r0z3r0 Posts: 229member
    So in other words...

    Current fans are too thick, noisy and consume too much power and Apple is trying to fix that.
  • Reply 19 of 38


    Originally Posted by maddog_uk_69 View Post

    Whoooooosh!!


     


    Hey, it's the sound of an ionic wind generator.

  • Reply 20 of 38


    How does this differ from the Dyson fan? Presumably there must be something, in order to get a patent.

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