Ion Cooler 3.0 (return of InventGeek)

[Jared]s been taking a bit of a hiatus, but he assures me that he’s gearing up for a bunch of new projects. The first sign that he’s awakened from his slumber is his latest take on the Ion Cooler. This time he’s built a CPU specific version. The cooler is made from off the shelf materials – heap pipe heat sink, copper pipe, tack nails, acrylic and even the ion generator are easy to get. It’s an interesting way to cool your PC if your comfortable with 10,000 volts or so next to your CPU.


  1. Tom Needer says:

    I have all the parts lying around right now to build this! i will jump on it and see how well it performs!

  2. Tom Needer says:


  3. Wolf says:

    looks nice, but I would think the small intake holes would act as a rather significant bottle-neck.

    Couldn’t you just leave the end open and put the emitters through the tubes side walls?

  4. toaste says:

    Looks interesting, but how can it possibly move air? Forgive me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the point to ionize air and draw it toward a grounding assembly? Even giving the fairly restrictive heatsink the benefit of the doubt, there’s no opening for air at the back.

    Those nails go through solid acrylic, so how is there any airflow at all? There’s no reference to how this cooler performs without a fan, and I imagine such a test would reveal that ambient air currents would provide better cooling than this outlandish contraption.

  5. aw says:

    I might be a bit dense atm but did they just make a small ring of holes around the side with the pins to allow air flow through the large tube?
    Any idea what direction the air flows?

  6. the one says:

    absolut bullshit
    what is a capacitor good for cooling????

  7. ScrappyLaptop says:

    In answer to Q5: I believe the theory is that by charging the molecules of air that are in the boundary layer you can get them to separate, to be replaced by new lower temperature (energy) ones, thus removing that insulating layer of air from the metal. Does it really work that way? Dunno. You’d think by now that if it really was such a leap there would be expensive retail models on servers as delivered and cheaper knockoffs that do nothing on fleaBay…maybe in another year, IF they really work…

  8. Tom Needer says:

    lol! its not a capacitor mr. the one… its an Electrostatic precipitator.

    think before you speak. im about ready to test my build of it.

  9. Mike says:

    Air is a neutrally charged particle, if you generate a high potential difference (i.e. voltage) you will attract both opposite and neutral charges. So the (-) electrode will attract (+) and (0) particles and the (+) electrode will attract (-) and (0) particles.

    When the air particles hit the first electrode, they gain a (-) charge (if they hit the (-) electrode). They are then attracted to the (+) electrode further down the way. When they then hit the (+) electrode they return the (-) charge and become neutral again but with some kinetic energy. Thus the circuit is completed and the air has a net movement past the heatsink and out of your computer.

  10. toaste says:

    In response to 9, I understand the principle of moving air with an ionic corona and a ground plate, but looking at the construction, I didn’t see the air intake. I now notice there are holes in the acrylic tube, but they still seem awfully small.

    In previous revisions and in typical ionocraft construction (see air can move freely past the ionizing corona. Here it looks like there’s not much room for airflow. I have to wonder if it can move much air past the restriction of the heatsink and the small holes when all similar constructions are designed to be very open for free airflow.

  11. Tom Needer says:

    Ok folks. It’s a confirmed project. I did increase the size of the holes in my version a bit. But I learned something by doing so. It’s possible to get an arc to pass through them if you’re not careful. Placing more holes near the top of the tube verses the bottom of the tube (or none at all) is the ideal configuration.
    The air flow this creates is really surprising to be honest. I expected to feel something that let me know something was happening but this is quite a good performer. With more copper tubes it would likely do even better. I am going to try something this weekend with a large volume of ¼ inch tubes.

  12. sempri_fi says:

    i would bet if you could induce more air contact with the electrodes you could make this more efficient. perhaps directing the flow of air onto the copper tubes more would prove to be beneficial, and to further this idea, you might be able to add a fan to force air into the ionizing chamber, so the unit would do as much as it could and the fan would further increase the performance. and as a side note, you might want to take and fasten a fat heatsink to the ion generator, i imagine it must get quite hot. mounting it on the outside of the tower might be beneficial too.

  13. Tom Needer says:

    I have been letting it run now for an hour or so and it’s about 48C that’s not really to bad overall… but a heatsink or even a peltier would be very nice! Now I have a question that is baffling me. Its performance seems to be getting better and better as it runs. Anyone have any ideas to this? I am assuming it’s the power supply its self….

  14. Scrappylaptop says:

    Video! With smoke, so we can see the airflow! (pretty please?)

  15. I am missing the air intake too. If you look at the modified stock heatsink it is even worse: the solid acrylic plate is on top of the heatsink.
    I think it would only work if there is a big hole on the side of the nails.

  16. andrew says:

    “Video! With smoke, so we can see the airflow! (pretty please?)”

    I second that!

  17. Dave says:

    great idea, i really don’t like the noise of my coolers… but also i’m not confortable with the idea of having 10kvolts into my cpu. and i’m not talking or afraid of short-circuits in the ion generator! is there any risk of electrostatic discharge, like when, e.g., accidentally i touch a motherboard without grounding my body?

    and YEAH! i wanna see a video with smoke, too ;)

    embraces from Brazil

  18. Ross M says:

    Humm, i love the hackaday geek factor of this, but thats about all. I think you would have to be mad to install this in a system that you might have just paid several thousand dollors for.

  19. strider_mt2k says:

    you there, turn out your pockets!

    just as i suspected-ions!

    You’re fired!

  20. Rob says:

    If you tried a video with smoke, wouldn’t he smoke particles stick to the +ve electrode? isn’t that how air purifiers work?

  21. ivan256 says:

    Hmm… I think I might build one of these for a water-cooling rig. It seems to me though, that you should be able to use the radiator/heatsink itself as the grounding plate. This probably wouldn’t be desirable when the heatsink is in contact with your CPU, but if it’s not…

    Also, does anybody know how dirty these things get, and how frequently you need to clean them? Every piece of dust and grime that goes through this thing is probably going to stick…

  22. ScrappyLaptop says:

    In reply to #11, yes, he would need to clean it afterwards, but it would definatively show the airflow going *in* and put to rest at least that question. There would still be the question of how much cooling is actually provided by the ion flow, but that can be tested by cutting the high-v power and then resuming. And, yes, I am going to build one to check this out and not just gripe and groan, but won’t get it done before the thread gets stale.

  23. ScrappyLaptop says:

    Sorry, I meant number 18.

  24. Danny says:

    From wikipedia: “Ionocrafts require many safety precautions due to the high voltage required for their operation and the risk of lung and throat cancer from long term inhalation of their ionised air product.” This thing works by the same principle as the ionic cooler. I spend a lot of time by my computer and I believe that most of you people here do too :) Sounds like it’s not to healthy to breathe the ionized air coming out of a PC using this cooler…

  25. matt says:

    This sounds stupid. I mean, making stuff is awesome, but I would hazard a guess that this thing puts out ozone and NOx, along with the ionized air. The ozone and NOx are bad for you. From the Wikipedia article

    “Even in relatively low concentrations, they can irritate lung tissues, cause chest pain, coughing, throat irritation, and can worsen the conditions of persons suffering from asthma.”

  26. MRE says:

    damn.. what really irks me about every single heatsink mod I have seen on h.a.d. or anywhere else for that matter is temperature claims, when no proper baseline is established.
    with the original heatsink and original fan “…The system idled at about 29C and we peaked at 41C…”
    With our new fangled better technology ’cause we made it in or garage cooling system “…The system idled at about 34C and we peaked at 48C … …While these are warmer than say a gaming enthusiast would prefer this falls well within the standard users system needs.”
    This data tells us absolutely nothing, unless you also state the temperature set with only the heatsink, no fan, no ion machine.
    How do I know the heatsink by itself doesn’t perform around 34 to 48C? For that matter, what was the room temperature?!
    I know were all hackers, but scientific method people!
    The cooling effect of a fan or other device can only be quantified when compared to the lack of said device.
    The only value that matters is “my device lowered the temperature by xx degrees.”
    effectiveness of a cooling device is not a measured temperature, it is a measured **difference in temperature**

  27. paragraph says:

    Umm… didn;t he say in 2.0 that he was concerned about the ramifications of pumping positively charged ions into a computer, and therefore reversed the airflow from intake to exhaust?

    I’m no engineer, but charged anything + electronics = short in my mind.

    Anyone got good science to back up how safe this is? I was thinking about making one as an exhaust, but never bothered because i didn’t like how far it had to protrude off of my case just to work :\

    anywho, benchmarks plz?

  28. Jared Bouck says:

    58 – Idle
    76 – Load, System shut its self down, no final result…

  29. MRE says:

    Jared.. wow.. 24C… quite a chunk of change..
    and more usefull data than that ‘4 pennies soldered to a copper pipe jammed through the case’ job I saw about 4 or 5 months ago.

  30. vladsinger says:

    Hey, is that an Arctic Freezer 7 Pro? I have one of those. :)

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