Mineral Oil Submersion. Down Sides?

Discussion in 'Extreme Cooling Solutions' started by CousinVin, Jan 6, 2011.

  1. CousinVin

    CousinVin Limp Gawd

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    I've recently discovered this online, and I'm intrigued by it to say the least. I am not entirely sure on the route I wish to take yet, because I am still a bit weary on the whole idea. What are some of the down sides? I understand that it is hard to clean off of the hardware that was submerged. I honestly don't really care about that. If I build a system, it will just be a modest system built to last, rather than anything extreme. Maybe a dual or quad with a lot of OC capability. I am not sure yet.

    So i guess my questions are:

    Can the mineral oil damage any hardware? will it wear away anything?
    Are than any tested, tried, and true alternatives to mineral oil? $10+ per gallon is a bit up there.
    What pump would be good to move around the oil, seeing as it isn't exactly the thinnest liquid?
    And this won't get clogged up inside of the thin pieces of a radiator, will it?


    Thanks for any help in advance. If i get answers I like, i will be sure to make a build log for you guys :D
     
  2. Domingow

    Domingow 2[H]4U

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    This website has a little more info on the subject.
     
  3. CousinVin

    CousinVin Limp Gawd

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    Thats where I starred, but they only state what i said really. Its a bitch to clean, voids warranty, etc. They don't really give the specs on the pump or alternatives to mineral oil that are cheaper and effective.

    edit: disregard that, forum.. *facepalm* But there still isn't really anything answering my questions.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2011
  4. ghost6303

    ghost6303 2[H]4U

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    sumberging a PC in anything for cooling is more of a novelty then an efficient cooling method. i have never seen anyone do this to any type of expensive new computer. only with older (sometimes wayy old) hardware that they wouldnt care if it got destroyed.

    if you are planing on doing this, once you submerge the PC, expect it to never come back out. you will never be able to clean off all the oil or return the computer to a regular air cooled PC. a regular heatsink isnt really designed for this, so you will have to be inventive for the design of that.

    you would probably need a very large pump and branch it off, or several smaller pumps, because you will need to aim a moving stream of moving oil at several different components. there will be no flow of any kind other then very small convection currents without a pump actively moving the oil, so you would need a jet directed at the heatsink, at the NB cooler, RAM, video card, etc. all heat producing components would need oil movement over them or the oil will sit there stagnant and heat up in small pockets.

    hard drives are not sealed and can not be submerged. the thermal material between the RAM and the heat spreader is probably broken down by certain oils, so you will need to figure out a way to run things without thermal compound for the most part. same with the video card mouting.

    any fans, like video card fan or northbridge cooler, would probably not work with a high viscosity fluid or would quickly burn out. now that you have zero airflow to help cool some of the parts, close to 100% of the energy input into the computer would be dumped into the oil as heat, so you would need a pretty big radiator.

    you can use any non conductive fluid you can find. the oil they use to fill electrical pole transformers is popular, but as you know its +$$$. if you use an organic based oil, you have to worry about it going rancid, or if you use a petrolium based oil, you have to worry about it eating plastic parts. also need to think about colors leeching out of different parts of things and clouding or tainting the oil. you might build a beautiful setup and 3 months later your tank might be completely opaque or turn some nasty color you werent expecting.

    non conductive oil also can become conductive if it gets contaminated with dust or moisture if its hydroscopic, so it will need to be fairly well sealed.

    food for thought anyway....
     
  5. fullvietFX

    fullvietFX [H]ard|Gawd

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  6. CousinVin

    CousinVin Limp Gawd

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    Fullviet, I have seen that.

    Ghost, thank you for that. I was planning on doing a little dual core system. Maybe an e8400 and a galaxy gtx460 super oc considering they're going for 150 on newegg. I was aware of the hard drive stuff. Im not like.... totally stupid when it comes to this. I did my share of research. These were just the parts I was shaddy on.
     
  7. BrainEater

    BrainEater Gawd

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    That's not true.

    I still run the p3 system I used in the Thinktank 1.0 project.It's my pfsense router now ,and it's been running 24/7/365 for three years.

    You just wash it in boiling Isopropanol a couple times.....takes the oil right off.

    -----------

    To answer your questions CousinVin ,

    1> Yes , oils damage certain things in a computer.It's important to do a full 'materials compatibility study' for whatever specific submersion fluid you plan to use , because different oils affect different things.Typically though , oils will make plastics brittle,they will dissolve the TIM used on the heatsinks and they can dissolve the greases in fans.You may have already found this thread , it's a great discussion on submersion fluids.

    2> Mineral oil is the cheapest submersion fluid worth considering.Don't bother with organic (cooking) oils , they just go rancid.You can get nearly pure mineral oil in the form of 'transformer oil' ....... And I assure you , 10 dollars a gallon is nothing , professional submersion fluids are hundreds of dollars a liter.

    3> Most water pumps will actually pump oil for a submersion rig. Remember it's going to get warm , and therefore thinner.It's more of a materials compatibilty issue than a viscosity issue...

    4> Probably not.

    -------

    Submersion is fun , give it a rip !

    :D
     
  8. CousinVin

    CousinVin Limp Gawd

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    Transformer oil can be found at large retailers? Just a question...

    And I saw your thinktank thread. It looks friggen gorgeous. That is part of the reason I want to do this. There aren't very many people who can say their computer is in a fish tank. haha. I feel like it is kind of a novelty more than anything else. I also do not need anything fantastic. I would feel terrible of I spent nearly $1K on something, only to dunk it. I think a modest C2D or an i5 would be more than enough. I like speed, but for the most part, I just browse forums, watch videos, sometimes capture and edit. Some low end gaming like tf2 and CS, but i have no need to max out crysis or something insane.


    I am leaning more an more towards this. It is more of a question of funding at this point.
     
  9. CousinVin

    CousinVin Limp Gawd

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    I'm considering doing an xbox 360 first considering I have a good friend who will sell me one for very cheap. I want to fit it inside of the stock case and build a tank for the liquid out of plexi glass. I'm sure this is more suited to the cases section, but what is a good substance to stick plexiglass together with, and seal it up?
     
  10. 4keatimj

    4keatimj [H]ard|Gawd

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    Mineral oil is a great novelty, but doesn't work well for cooling, unless you are able to remove the heat from the oil (using a radiator of some description). I have an old P4 ~1.4GHz system at work that is submerged in mineral oil in a large fish tank as a display, and while it gets plenty of looks from customers, it actually runs quite warm (even without an OS). If you want to go down that path with a modern system, make sure you devise some way to get rid of heat generated by the system :)
     
  11. CousinVin

    CousinVin Limp Gawd

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    I was planning on doing a pump and radiator loop. Thanks for the tip though!
     
  12. 4keatimj

    4keatimj [H]ard|Gawd

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    Fantastic! I'm guessing too, that anything other than a fishtank will be much better to move the oil around in an efficient manner. Certainly don't expect water-cooling type efficiency, but I'm guessing you're doing it for reasons other than cooling :D
     
  13. CousinVin

    CousinVin Limp Gawd

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    Well a case for an xbox would be relatively small. An inlet and outlet tube would pretty efficiently move it around in a roughly 1-2 gallon tank. I plan on bulding it out of plexiglass, gluing it together. Sealing it and then the pump.
     
  14. 4keatimj

    4keatimj [H]ard|Gawd

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    That sounds pretty much ideal. Mineral oil is pretty annoying to work with though, its very much like a clear lubricant and tends to go everywhere, so naturally keeping it well sealed is crucial. Thats about all I can offer, other than read other people's projects and have some fun with it!
     
  15. Nightbird

    Nightbird [H]ard|Gawd

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    I have one, works fine, runs folding 24/7
     
  16. CousinVin

    CousinVin Limp Gawd

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    Not sure exactly what folding is... sorry never got into that.

    Also, the only thing i could find locally was mineral oil spirits, which im pretty sure is not the same thing haha.


    But Home depot did have .220" acrylic. I have the other parts. I may pick that up and get started on the basic fabrication.
     
  17. Decibel

    Decibel 2[H]4U

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    I'd be very concerned about the mess, the oil wicking through cables and dripping off of everything whenever you want to do an upgrade or need to swap a component, and the propensity for it to degrade and eat plastics and rubber.

    Still sounds like a fun project, but I'd do it as a novelty, not as my main system.
     
  18. Nightbird

    Nightbird [H]ard|Gawd

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    I picked up my mineral oil for a bit less than 10$ a gallon, you can find medicinal quality oil as laxative for horses and cows, and can be bought cheap at your 'local' farm feed store. It'll be far more expensive (like 4x more expensive) if you buy it in small quantities from places like walmart. I spent around 200$ for my complete system cooling, for radiator+pump+oil+case+fans+fan controller
     
  19. kinjo

    kinjo [H]ard|Gawd

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    I would imagine your fans would wear out quicker from having to circulate somthing so much more dense than air.
     
  20. EngrChris

    EngrChris Gawd

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    I believed the motherboard caps did not fair well on a build here on the forums.
     
  21. USMCGrunt

    USMCGrunt 2[H]4U

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    A few, "outlandish" type thoughts popped into my head while reading this....

    What about cooling the oil in a similar manner as those fish tank filters do with water by just letting it...."waterfall" back into the pool of oil...though it probably couldn't keep it with the heat load?

    If you were to use a couple very large 200-300mm fans wouldn't that be enough to move all the oil around and keep from having any deadspots over the board?

    Another way of possibly cooling would be having a coldplate of a peltier cooler mounted to either side of a case in the path of the flow so that the oil cools as it passes through?
     
  22. ghost6303

    ghost6303 2[H]4U

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    this works in fish tanks and "bong chillers" because water evaporates, which is endothermic. oil does not evaporate and that will not cool anything.
    all depends on the individual setup. fans are not meant to move a heavy fluid, so YMMV for the longevity of a fan submersed in oil. it could burn out immediately, or it might be able to handle the load. there are reasons like efficiency for using a pump over a fan to move fluids heavier than air.


    peltiers are extremely inefficent, if you want to pay an extra 150% in electricity costs just to cool the thing, that is your decision. but a that point, you have a heatsink and fan on each peltier (and you would need many, plus another power supply to run them all). you could save a lot of money and effort by just going air cooled from the begining if you are going to end up with a whole bunch of heatsinks and fans anyway.

    or i suppose you could water cool each peltier and pump that into a radiator... but it all depends on how "rube goldberg" you want this to turn out.
     
  23. Nightbird

    Nightbird [H]ard|Gawd

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    I don't have any fans in my little mineral oil box, and to prevent wicking, the power cord is plugged in at a higher altitude than the oil. No other cords are submerged.

    Pumps will last longer in mineral oil which has 90% the density of water, and hence less stress. The fact that mineral oil is used as an industrial lubricant also helps.

    I wouldn't put low rpm fans in there as it wouldn't be able to move the oil much. A 3-blade delta should do the trick, or you can direct the flow to and from the pump to create circulation and avoid fans altogether.