An increasing number of industrial sectors are turning to water-cooled applications and equipment to improve reliability and reduce electronic component size. Due to developments in water-cooling technology, there is now a range of reasons why it has become a major trend in engineering.
Steve Hughes, managing director of power quality specialist REO UK, says that many renewable and marine resistor applications are moving towards liquid cooling, because it offers superior environmental protection for drive systems, as well as improved reliability and smaller component sizes. A water-cooled brake resistor, for example, can be half the size of its air cooled equivalent and the heated water produced can be integrated into a heating system, producing further efficiencies.
Water cooling is also well suited to industrial applications in which components with low surface temperatures are required. These include the wood and textile industries as well as explosion-protected environments and wind turbines.
Whilst the technology is, broadly speaking, referred to as water cooling, the kinds of liquids that can be used as coolants are actually quite diverse and include non-conductive liquids like deionised water. Glycol and aqueous solutions like ethyl glycol water have very good physical properties but are toxic, while propylene glycol water has slightly inferior properties but is more suitable for use in the food industry.
Salt water can also be used, but engineers must consider the risk of deposits, severe corrosion and contamination. In contrast, dielectric liquids have properties similar to deionised water and are not very corrosive.