No Drip Hot Swap Connector And Method of Use
A connector for use in a negative pressure coolant system is disclosed. The connector connects coolant system circulating to an electrical component thereby allowing the coolant to circulate through the electrical component. The connector is made up of two components, a component side connector and a pump side connector, and can be in three positions: disengaged, semi-engaged and fully-engaged. An electrical component can be drained of its coolant while the connector is shifted from the fully-engaged position, to the semi-engaged position and to the disengaged position. This can be accomplished without shutting down the negative pressure coolant system, thus allowing a particular electrical component to be disconnected without affecting the cooling efficiency of other electrical components connected to the system. Because the coolant is drained, it will not spill on the electrical component and cause damage.
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The present application claims priority as a divisional of U.S. application Ser. No. 14/205777 filed on Mar. 12, 2014 which is a non-provisional of Ser. No. 61/839246 filed on Jun. 25, 2013. The full disclosure of these references are herein incorporated by reference.2.0 TECHNICAL FIELD
The present invention relates to systems and methods for cooling computer systems.3.0 BACKGROUND
Arrays of electronic computers or components, such as those found in data centers, generate a great deal of heat. An example central processing unit of a personal computer (“CPU”) generates over 100 watts of heat (some can generate much more than this) and has a maximum case temperature of about 60 C. An example array (or rack) of 88 CPUs may generate 9 kW of heat.
The standard way to keep data centers cool is to use expensive and relatively inefficient vapor-compression refrigeration systems at least part of the time. These conventional cooling or “air conditioning” systems often use more power that the computers themselves, all of which is discharged to the environment as waste heat. These systems use air as the heat transfer medium, and it is due to the low heat capacity and low thermal conductivity of air that refrigeration must be used to remove the heat generated by multiple air heat exchangers. Some operators use evaporation of cooling liquid to cool liquid-to-air heat exchangers. While this is more thermally efficient than refrigeration, the computers run hotter, reducing their reliability, decreasing their efficiency and making the data center uncomfortable for human occupants.
Water is used as the coolant throughout this disclosure, but it will be known to those in art that other coolants may be used. Water has approximately 4000 times more heat capacity than air of the same volume, so water is a theoretically ideal heat transfer agent for direct heat transfer from heat generating components. Other coolants offer similar performance. For example, the coolant may consist essentially of water, including tap water, or may comprise one or more perfluorocarbons or avionics cooling liquids. Liquid cooling is recognized as a thermally efficient way to cool computer CPUs due to their high concentration of power and heat generation in a small space, but the rest of a computer's electronics generate heat at a lower rate and temperature, so air-cooling is appropriate for much of the associated hardware.
Current systems may use liquid cooling to move the heat from the CPU to a radiator mounted close to the CPU, or they may use an air-to-liquid heat exchanger to remove heat from the computer enclosure. These systems suffer from the high thermal resistance and bulkiness of air-to-liquid or liquid-to-air heat exchangers. Other systems use a chilled coolant loop to cool the computer, but these systems require complex and expensive connectors and plumbing to connect the server to the building coolant supply while insuring that no leaks occur, which may be devastating in or near a computer. Accordingly, operators of server systems are rightly concerned about leaks and reliability of using liquid to coo computers. Furthermore, chillers require a large amount of power. Additionally, for operation in a data center, servers, particularly blade servers, need to be compact.
Therefore, what is needed is a compact cooling solution adaptable for up to a large number of computers, that combines and balances air-cooling for low-intensity heat sources with liquid-cooling for high-intensity heat sources while using a minimum amount of coolant flow, and that is reliable, leak-free and low in power consumption.4.0 SUMMARY
The present system addresses these issues and more by providing in various example embodiments an efficient and compact connector for use in a negative pressure coolant system. The connector connects the coolant system to an electrical component thereby allowing the coolant to circulate through the electrical component. The connector is made up of two components, a component side connector and a pump side connector. The component side connector includes a housing that contains a return conduit pin and a supply conduit pin that are both in hydraulic connection with the electrical component allowing coolant to circulate through the electrical component. The pump side connector mates with component side connector. The pump side connector includes a housing that contains a return valve and a supply valve. The return and supply valves are constructed such that the connector has three positions: disengaged, semi-engaged and fully-engaged. When the pump side connector is in a disengaged position both the return and supply valves are closed and sealed against positive pressure. When the pump side connector is in a semi-engaged position with the component side connector (1) the return valve forms a hydraulic seal with the return conduit pin, (2) the supply conduit pin is hydraulically exposed to positive pressure, and (3) the supply valve is closed and sealed against positive pressure. And when the pump side connector is in a fully-engaged position with the component side connector (1) the return valve forms a hydraulic seal with the return conduit pin, and (2) the supply valve forms a hydraulic seal with the supply conduit pin, thereby allowing the coolant to circulate to the electrical component.
Other aspects of the invention are disclosed herein as discussed in the following Drawings and Detailed Description.5.0 BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The invention can be better understood with reference to the following figures. The components within the figures are not necessarily to scale, emphasis instead being placed on clearly illustrating example aspects of the invention. In the figures, like reference numerals designate corresponding parts throughout the different views and/or embodiments. It will be understood that certain components and details may not appear in the figures to assist in more clearly describing the invention.
6.0 DETAILED DESCRIPTION
Following is a non-limiting written description of example embodiments illustrating various aspects of the invention. These examples are provided to enable a person of ordinary skill in the art to practice the full scope of the invention without having to engage in an undue amount of experimentation. As will be apparent to persons skilled in the art, further modifications and adaptations can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention, which is limited only by the claims.
As shown in
When a component needs to be disconnected it should be drained of coolant to allow for component removal without spilling coolant on sensitive electronics and to prevent freezing damage, corrosion and bacterial growth. An object of this disclosure is to allow for a liquid cooled electronic component to be drained of coolant upon disconnection from a negative pressure pumped liquid cooling system and to seal the pumping system with minimal effort.
The connector disclosed herein compels the user to remove substantially all the coolant in the component before disconnecting it from the pumping system. The inventor of this application has disclosed designs for no drip hot swap connector in patent application Ser. No. 13/410558 “Computer Cooling System and Method of Use” filed Mar. 2, 2012 by the same inventor, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety. The present application includes improvements to the earlier patent application such as preventing the user from removing the connector in one motion and using a staggered multi-valve.
The connector 200, comprised of two components described below, is connected on one side to the component (1105, 1110, 1115) and on the other side to the negative pressure coolant pumping system 1125. The user must pull the connector from a fully-engaged position to a semi-engaged position in order to reveal a latch, in such a position only one conduit pin is inserted into a valve while the other conduit pin is exposed to positive pressure causing the coolant in the component to be sucked into the pumping system and thereby removed from the component. It should be noted that exposure of the connector to any positive pressure relative to the pressure in the central negative pressure coolant pumping system would cause the component to drain its coolant; this includes normal ambient or atmospheric pressure. The user can then complete the disconnection of the connecter by depressing the latch, allowing the connector to be fully removed.
All of this can happen without turning off or otherwise affecting the rest of the coolant system. In a typical coolant flow rate of 500 cc/minute, the component may contain approximately 8 cc of coolant, so the component is drained in less than one second. Thus the connector disclosed herein is also known as a no drip hot swap connector.6.1 THE RETURN VALVE AND SUPPLY VALVE
The preferred embodiment of the no drip hot swap connector consists of two flexible valves, each of which may seal against a conduit pin or positive pressure. The valves are positioned so that one opens before the other as the male portion of the connector (the component side) is advanced into or removed from the female portion (the pumping side).
One embodiment of the valve 100 is shown in
Also shown in
In another embodiment, the valve may be formed of two disks of a resilient material, such as plastic, silicone or rubber, as shown in
As described below, the connector uses two valves in a staggered design and at an orientation that is 180 degrees from each other. So the connector with the duckbill valve 100 of FIG 1A would use two such valves in a staggered configuration, with one valve 100 (the return valve) having the circular seal 120 that contacts a return conduit pin at the entrance of the valve 100 and a second valve 100 (the supply valve) having the circular seal 120 contacting a supply conduit pin at the exit of the valve 100. And for the connector with the disk valve of
The entire connector 200 is shown in
Valve 100a is the supply valve that supplies coolant to the component, while valve 100b is the return valve that allows coolant that has circulated through the component to return to the negative pressure pumping system. It is into each of the valves 100a, 100b that conduit pins 215, 220 are inserted. Again, these conduit pins or cannulae are analogous to the inflation needles which are used to fill up basketball—that is they have a central channel/conduit 225 connected to a port or ports 230 at the distal end, allowing for coolant to either enter or exit the pin as depicted by arrow 235.
The connector has three possible engagement positions: disengaged, semi-engaged and fully engaged.
Conduit pins 215 and 220 do not engage their respective valves at the same time. Rather as the component side 205 is brought into mating contact with the pumping side 210, return conduit pin 220 engages the return valve 100b first thus forming a sealed hydraulic connection between the return connector tube 820b and the conduit within return conduit pin 220. Once that connection is made, called the semi-engaged position, the pumping system which is at negative pressure begins to suck air from the supply conduit pin 215. The semi-engaged position is described in more detail below with reference to
After the semi-engaged position, the component side 205 is brought closer to the pumping side 210 such that the supply conduit pin 215 engages the supply valve 100a, forming a sealed hydraulic connection between the supply connector tube 820a and the conduit within supply conduit pin 215. When both conduit pins are engaged, the connector is in the fully-engaged position such that coolant from the pumping system can flow through the component. The fully-engaged position is described in more detail below with reference to
This is shown in
The portion of the return valve 100b that seals against the return conduit pin 220 is on the left and on the right for supply conduit pin 215/supply valve 100a complex. This maximizes the range of the connector insertion position wherein the server may be drained.6.3 THE FULLY-ENGAGED (PUMPING) POSITION
The connector 200 in the fully-engaged or pumping position is shown in
The connector in the semi-engaged or draining position is shown in
6.5 DELAY STRUCTURES
If the connector is separated too quickly, the coolant may not completely drained from the component, therefore it is preferable to have a latch system that forces the user to maintain the connector in the semi-engaged position shown in
In another embodiment from co-pending application Ser. No. 13/410,558, the coolant may itself create the delay. For example, the connector may include a coolant delay mechanism such as shown in
The latch 505 on the pumping side 205 and the complementary slot 605 on the component side 210 create a keyed configuration such that the two components of the connector can only mate in one orientation. A keyed configuration, however, may not be necessary to the operation of the connector. If, for example, coolant can flow through the component in either direction without affecting cooling efficiency then the two components of the connector can be connected in either orientation. If, however, the cooling efficiency is dependent on the flow direction, the two components should be keyed. This may be the case, for example, if the component, or connector, has a coolant filter such that changing the coolant flow direction would backwash that filter and pollute the system.
If instead of a staggered valve configuration, the conduit pins are staggered then it would be preferable to have a keyed configuration to ensure that the first conduit pin to engage, engages with the return valve.6.7 THE SUBCOMPONENTS OF THE CONNECTOR
6.8 BLIND MATE CONNECTION USING THE CONNECTOR
Another alternate embodiment would utilize different length pins pressing on spring-loaded poppet valves, as in quick connect coupling described in U.S. Pat. No. 4,436,125. In this way, when the connector is in the intermediate position, one pin is pushing a poppet valve open and another is not yet engaged. Because the valve operates under vacuum, the poppet valves may need to be of the balanced type, so that the vacuum does not cause them to open prematurely.
The invention has been described in connection with specific embodiments that illustrate examples of the invention but do not limit its scope. Various example systems have been shown and described having various aspects and elements. Unless indicated otherwise, any feature, aspect or element of any of these systems may be removed from, added to, combined with or modified by any other feature, aspect or element of any of the systems. As will be apparent to persons skilled in the art, modifications and adaptations to the above-described systems and methods can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention, which is defined only by the following claims. Moreover, the applicant expressly does not intend that the following claims “and the embodiments in the specification to be strictly coextensive.” Phillips v. AHW Corp., 415 F.3d 1303, 1323 (Fed. Cir. 2005) (en banc).
1. A dry-disconnect system for liquid-cooled electronic components, comprising a connector releasably connecting a liquid coolant-containing heat exchanger to a liquid coolant-containing reservoir in fluid communication with the heat exchanger, where the liquid coolant is below-atmospheric-pressure, the connector adapted to release the liquid coolant-containing heat exchanger from the reservoir only when substantially all of the liquid coolant has been drained out of the heat exchanger.
2. A method of draining coolant from an electrical component connected to a negative pressure coolant system, the method comprising:
- (a) providing a connector that connects the negative pressure coolant system to the electrical component, the connector comprising pump side connector adapted to mate with a component side connector that contains a return conduit pin and a supply conduit pin in hydraulic connection with an electrical component, the pump side connector comprising a return valve and a supply valve constructed such that: when the pump side connector is in a semi-engaged position with the component side connector (1) the return valve forms a hydraulic seal with the return conduit pin, (2) the supply conduit pin is hydraulically exposed to positive pressure, and (3) the supply valve is closed and sealed against positive pressure;
- (b) placing the pump side connector in the semi-engaged position, thereby allowing positive pressure to push the coolant out of the electrical component into the negative pressure coolant system through the return valve; and
- (c) maintaining the pump side connector in the semi-engaged position a sufficient amount of time to drain the coolant from the electrical component.
3. The method of claim 2 wherein when the pump side connector is in a disengaged position both the return and supply valves are closed and sealed against the positive pressure, the method further comprising placing the pump side connector in the disengaged position, thereby disconnecting the electrical component from the negative pressure coolant system.
4. The method of claim 2, the connector further comprising a delay structure, wherein the sufficient amount of time of step (c) is caused at least in part by the delay structure.
5. The method of claim 4 wherein the delay structure is a latch, wherein the wherein the sufficient amount of time of step (c) is caused at least in part by actuating the latch.
6. The method of claim 2, the connector further comprising an audible indicator that makes noise dependent on the amount of coolant in the electrical component, wherein the sufficient amount of time of step (c) is based on the audible characteristics of the audible indicator.
International Classification: H05K 7/20 (20060101);