I recently spoke with Steve Taylor, senior researcher from Cannon Instruments, who is using piezoelectric fan technology to solve some of his thermal management challenges. Steve has given permission for me to share his experience.
Steve's two challenges were reliably operating a fan at high temperature, and in a confined space. Cannon is developing a product for the oil and gas industry that measures the properties of fluids.
His new product needed to increase evaporation at the surface of the fluid samples. When Steve reached out to me he said he needed; "a way to circulate air in a narrow space at temperatures up to 140 C." He went on to say that, "traditional fan technology can't give us the reliability we need at those elevated temperatures and it's too bulky for our application." Steve and his team researched different cooling product options and decided to go with piezoelectric cooling technology for the reasons described below.
The Solution: Piezoelectric Fan Technology
Packaged piezo cooling technology offers superior reliability over traditional cooling fans. Both the piezo and the packaging (protective layers surrounding the piezo) are critical to reliability. See my previous blog post on the benefits of packaged piezoelectric cooling technology, but the synopsis is that traditional fans use bearings which wear out leading to failure, especially at elevated temperatures.
Piezoelectric fans offer a solid state solution with no rotating parts that can wear out, enabling superior reliability especially when operating at elevated temperatures. Packaged piezoelectric actuator technology has been fielded for over 25 years. The new fan technology has undergone substantial accelerated life tests including, highly accelerated life testing (HALT), humidity HALT, salt fog and many others.
Another one of Cannon's challenges was a confined design space. From the image of Cannon's prototype above and the video below you can see how small of a form factor piezoelectric fans occupy, another unique benefit of the technology.
Cannon is targeting a Q4 2016 release of their new product with PiezoFlo cooling technology. I will be sure to update this post after Steve's product launch. If your application has an demanding thermal environment or space constraints piezoelectric cooling technology may be able to offer you an enabling solution, please contact us.