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Why is water the default coolant for "water cooling" loops?

post #1 of 33
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I am genuinely curious, why is it the norm to see water used in liquid cooling systems on enthusiast computers, instead of another type of coolant? Chemically speaking, water has terrible heat transfer properties. Water is actually a better insulator than a coolant. Also, water, even purified water, almost always contains trace ions and minerals which are electrically conductive. This is the reason water is not safe to use on electronics. Water also supports bacterial growth, so other chemicals have to be added to it, and a water cooling loop must be changed regularly or it can develop bacterial waste. Also, water is corrosive, and has the possibility to displace many oxigen ions, which is why you can see copper oxide and aluminum oxide on water blocks. More commonly known as rust tongue.gif.

There are many readily available, cheap liquids that have much higher heat capacity, much better heat transfer properties, and none of the problems with bacterial waste and electroconductiviy that water has. Many organic compounds, aka oils and alcohols could just as easily be used in a closed loop with a pump and a radiator. Vegetable oil in particular is incredibly dense, cheap, and has wonderful heat carrying capacity. Motor oil, rubbing alcohol, mineral oils, and others could also be used. I have seen experiments on the internet with the fish tank case computers, where an entire motherboard was submerged in mineral oil or a silicate as an experiment. Obviously oils are nonconductive so it worked just fine, but these solutions are impracticable and unnecessary. You don't have to french fry a motherboard to keep it cool, simply using a thin oil in a regular water cooling loop should work out just fine, right? I know this post reads more like theory for a science experiment, but I am really curious, why don't more enthusiast use alternative coolants in their liquid cooling system? In fact, why isn't it the norm?
post #2 of 33
High specific heat.
Cheap.
Low viscosity.

Vegetable fails because of "problems with bacterial waste" and "incredibly dense".

Motor oil fails because of "incredibly dense" and not good for leaks in a house.
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post #3 of 33
Coolant breaks down and clogs/slows flow.
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post #4 of 33
Quote:
Water also supports bacterial growth, so other chemicals have to be added to it, and a water cooling loop must be changed regularly or it can develop bacterial waste.

That guy Martin has been running his rig for 2 years without cleaning it.
    
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post #5 of 33
Water has worked fine for years. The bacterial growth can be controlled with chemicals
(aka Pt nuke) or with silver (aka kill-coils)
other liquids even though non conductive will become conductive after being exposed to
the Copper in the cooling loop

Never really tested this but after twenty plus years a mechanic I can tell you that a gallon of water cools down faster than a gallon of motor oil
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post #6 of 33
No liquid has a higher volumetric heat capacity than water, thus no material you could put in a water cooling loop would make for cooler temperatures than water.

All the downsides of water are easily managed.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mothergoose729;12138243 
There are many readily available, cheap liquids that have much higher heat capacity

Name one.
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post #7 of 33
If there was a better compound to cool components, then why don't nuclear reactors use it? Water is the best heat removing solution for the cost.
post #8 of 33
The only problem with water is it has a relatively high freezing point which makes it a little less than desirable if you want to run extremely cold liquid through your blocks.
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post #9 of 33
*** cough*** OP air cools ***cough***

distilled wtaer gives better temps, is practicaly free (under $1 for a gallon) and don't break down and gunk up your blocks after a few months.. i ran my distilled water with nothing but a silver coil for 10 months before i got the urge to upgrade so i had to change it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by tconroy135;12138491 
The only problem with water is it has a relatively high freezing point which makes it a little less than desirable if you want to run extremely cold liquid through your blocks.

yes but moving water don't freeze as easy as still water, and since your pump is moving the water round its very hard for it to freeze.. i had my rad on the window when it was -22*c outside and the loop worked just fine, cpu idle was -6*c and the water in the rad i tested was around -15*c which is well under the freezing point of water that is still.
Edited by ShortySmalls - 1/25/11 at 11:27am
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post #10 of 33
It's specific heat as a liquid is very high, 4183 J/kg/K* IIRC, which means it needs a lot of energy (other wise known as heat) is needed to make it go up one degree. So that means the temp will stay low, thus cooler components.

* This means 4183 joules of energy are needed per kilogram of substance to go up by one degree kelvin (Celsius - 273).
Edited by fr0st. - 1/25/11 at 11:33am
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