Coolant/Fluid Roundup - Thermal Performance

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A topic that seems to resurface every couple of weeks around the forums is what coolant/fluid is best; this usually ends up turning into a heated debate of opinions with no data to douse the flames. There is an ever-growing variety of coolants that are available in a rainbow of colors, which is great for those of you trying to achieve a certain color scheme where colored tubing just will not cut it or you have nightmares when your reservoir contains a clear fluid that just does not match your color scheme.

A variety of fluids on the market have been marketed as anti-corrosive, non-conductive, earth friendly and the list goes on and on. The anti-corrosive feature potentially holds weight for the times when you just cannot avoid a little aluminum in your loop, but the “no more aluminum” crusade eliminated nearly every aluminum product out there. Copper, brass and even silver make up our cooling products now, you have to search out aluminum on purpose to find a product that has it in the flow path. Non-conductive, well, all fluids will become conductive over time in your loop… so there goes that marketing angle.

So what are we left with you ask, color and thermal performance are the only things left in my mind. Those of you who frequent forums have all viewed the threads where colored fluids have broken down and clogged up micro-pins or impingement plates. Additives in our fluids will break down, this should be of no surprise, the piece not discussed on those gunk/clogging threads is that the coolant breaking down contains more than just water and color dye. I am of the opinion (opinion because I have no hard data on the matter) that the additives besides the dye are the real culprit.

Last but not least is performance, and that is exactly what we were on a mission to find with this round of testing and review. Let us not waste any more time with my introduction and get to the matter at hand…

Included in the roundup is distilled water with PT_nuke, Feser One, Feser Ultra Pure, Fluid XP Nano-Fluid, Ice Dragon Nanofluid Formula C2, Ice Dragon Nanofluid retail formula, Minnesota Tap water, Primochill PC Ice, Primochill PC Pure, Swiftech Hydrx and Thermochill EC6. We tried to cover as many of the latest trends, popular fluids, and classics as possible; we even have tap water fresh from my city water supply. Nanofluids are the latest advancement looking to knock good old distilled water off the hill; we have three, the early prototype formula from Ice Dragon (Formula C2), Ice Dragon retail, and the most colorful selection in our roundup Fluid XP Nano-fluid.

Providing the primary backdrop for our coolants is the box from our X58-UD7, Gigabyte sent over the UD7 for the several system level tests we have planned and the coolant roundup is the first. We will cover more on the UD7 as we progress with the system tests we have planned, but with a little preview of our test system, time to move beyond the intro and dive into our test specification and methodology.

Intrigued? Head over to Skinnee Labs for the full article…

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Discussion
  1. ballnuts
    Sorry, but this leaves so much to be desired. If you're going to do a test, do it right. No mention of the chemical breakdown (yes you can run tests to determine this), PH, viscosity, methanol/hydrocarbon content, etc. etc.... This leaves us exactly where we started. Time to stop taking handouts and get involved with some real testing. Where is Martin?


    Martin retired for the second time. He did it for free like Skinnee. It was a hobby and someday it's time to move on.

    Your welcome to spend a few $1000 for testing equipment and do it like you want it done I guess. Let us know your results buddy.:popcorn:
    If you look and see, this was done by Skinee Labs... one of the most respected water review sites around along with Martin. Sorry they didnt go into as much detail as you liked... its plenty for most. I mean who cares about the PH, and the amount of hydrocarbons anyway? What effect does knowing these values add to cooling anyway (serious question I have no idea)?

    EDIT: Perhaps you can look/respond at the thread you started a couple weeks ago asking for watercooling help instead of randomly disparaging a two year old article that we at OCF didnt even write. :)
    Sorry, but this leaves so much to be desired. If you're going to do a test, do it right. No mention of the chemical breakdown (yes you can run tests to determine this), PH, viscosity, methanol/hydrocarbon content, etc. etc.... This leaves us exactly where we started. Time to stop taking handouts and get involved with some real testing. Where is Martin?
    Owenator
    That's where it comes from then. It is a point of balance in the fission reaction. I just wanted to clarify the word because 'critical' seems to be used more often on tv etc. as the medical 'critical care' or 'critical condition' and can sound scary to some. The reactor being 'critical' is a good thing for steady state power generation.:thup:


    OH MY GOD YOUR REACTOR IS CRITICAL?!?! ITS JUST LIKE STALKER!!!! jklolz no one was panicking so I figured i'd throw you a bone :)
    macklin01
    FWIW, in mathematics and physics, a "critical value" or "critical point" is often used to denote a point (in a phase space) that separates very different regimes of behaviour. So, it doesn't necessarily relate to uncertainty. -- Paul


    That's where it comes from then. It is a point of balance in the fission reaction. I just wanted to clarify the word because 'critical' seems to be used more often on tv etc. as the medical 'critical care' or 'critical condition' and can sound scary to some. The reactor being 'critical' is a good thing for steady state power generation.:thup:
    FWIW, in mathematics and physics, a "critical value" or "critical point" is often used to denote a point (in a phase space) that separates very different regimes of behaviour. So, it doesn't necessarily relate to uncertainty. -- Paul
    macklin01
    Cool! And the boric acid cuts down on the cockroaches, too. :-) More seriously, I would never have guessed on the boric acid. Thanks for the interesting post. I'm guessing the concentration and composition of the boron have to be changed as the uranium composition changes? (Not a nuclear physics guy at all, so pretty naive!)


    If it leaked out we'd have problems because it can be corrosive to certain alloys of steel. So we keep a close watch on it. But we do buy it in 55 gal drums.

    To the neutronics question - yes, boron in the primary coolant water acts as an absorber for neutrons helping us to control the reaction. We actually start up by lifting control rods (which have borated metal in them BTW) to a certain pre calculated point and then gradually diluting the boron out until we reach critical. 'Critical' just means equal neutrons generated by the reaction as needed to sustain the reaction. This one to one ratio was extremely hard to obtain back in the day (1940's) so they called it 'critical'. Most of the time it was below or sub critical so the fission reaction would die out.

    I could go on and on but it's off-topic ;)
    Cool! And the boric acid cuts down on the cockroaches, too. :-) More seriously, I would never have guessed on the boric acid. Thanks for the interesting post. I'm guessing the concentration and composition of the boron have to be changed as the uranium composition changes? (Not a nuclear physics guy at all, so pretty naive!)
    macklin01
    Are you watercooling nuclear reactors these days? What additives are you using there? ;)


    In the pressurized ones I know we add a lot of boric acid for neutron absorption, plus other suff to to keep corrosion down (hydrogen maybe, but I forget what). There is actually a group of over 20 people that test and maintain the water chemistry in a reactor coolant system. We have hot labs on site and everything!:D

    Note: By 'hot' I mean labs that can deal with radioactive stuff in the water chemistry.

    Owenator and I decided to keep these 2 posts post-cleanup because it show the diversity of our readership, not to mention the additives in pretty much the most extreme watercooling application in current use. ;) -- macklin01, forums moderator
    I've used water wetter back in the day (prob close to ten years ago). Like was said it was def a time of experimentation and discovery. We tried it all.:D

    Today it's all predone for you so not as much experimentation. :(

    I agree with what's been said: Watter Wetter was designed for higher temp systems, it stains and coats parts, and it does look pink. So, probably not a good choice for water cooling.
    rge
    metal around cylinder heads reach 150C which causes localized vapor bubbles to form, it would be like taking a blow torch to a swimming pool, under the blow torch steam would form but few feet away in the pool the water temp could still be room temperature. Water wetter simply decreases the formation/size of bubbles in localized hot spots.

    @macklin01, yeah I dont get how water wetter got started with computers either, makes no sense at all, I guess someone just made a lot of assumptions based on water wetters marketing without bothering to look up how it works. A few people on XT have used it long ago when mixing metals was more common and always complained it coated metal, was difficult to clean off, and did just what you said, it acts like an insulator and significantly increased temps...but havent ever tried it myself.


    ah, ok...man, didn't realize it was that bad in engines...I'm gonna go back to pc stuff now so that I can feel like I at least know a little again lol
    I went down the Water Wetter path many years ago when I first started water cooling (sounds like I took up illicit drugs or something) :p. Aside from the fact it didn't help at all, was a pain in the butt to clean the coating off everything, and stained the tubing it also caused micro bubbles to take forever to dissipate after refilling the loop. I'm sure that didn't help performance. Plus the stuff smells like hot sick. It did give the water a nice pink color if that's your thing. :sly:
    macklin01
    Thanks, guys. Glad to see I'm not just missing something obvious.

    @rge: The physics you describe sound exactly right to me. Somewhat off-topic, you'd probably really enjoy hydrodynamic cavitation.


    You should move such talk to more adult forums. I' won't report you this time.

    Hydro cav.... lalalalala! I don't hear that! lalalalla!

    LOL, sorry.......... lalalala!
    rge
    metal around cylinder heads reach 150C which causes localized vapor bubbles to form, it would be like taking a blow torch to a swimming pool, under the blow torch steam would form but few feet away in the pool the water temp could still be room temperature. Water wetter simply decreases the formation/size of bubbles in localized hot spots.

    @macklin01, yeah I dont get how water wetter got started with computers either, makes no sense at all, I guess someone just made a lot of assumptions based on water wetters marketing without bothering to look up how it works. A few people on XT have used it long ago when mixing metals was more common and always complained it coated metal, was difficult to clean off, and did just what you said, it acts like an insulator and significantly increased temps...but havent ever tried it myself.


    From what I gather, it goes back to the early days before me by at least 3-5 years. It was wild west back then, you use what seems best and go for it. When I first started over 2 years ago, there still was discussion on what antifreeze was best. Blue or red. Meaning VW or Toyota.

    WW was made for racing, to give some benefits to racing rigs without having to use antifreeze, which reduced cooling, but still had some of the properties needed for a cooling system.

    Thats what I gather from reading, and the internet in it's wisdom has old posts that will forever continue the myth.

    So, it's not needed these days.
    m0r7if3r
    ok, more noobieness on auto comin, and I'm takin this from a watercooling side, but wouldn't the water in the system stay about the same temp, meaning all the water would have to reach 100c before any of it boiled, and if it did begin to boil, the enormous amount of energy needed for that phase change would boost the temps in the rad...iator (can I abbreviate it here...i'm not sure, back to the point) increasing the effectiveness of the cooling and causing it to reach equilibrium well before any water could boil? Or is there just some ungodly enormous amount of heat being generated by these things that a rather small radiator is having to dissipate (sorry to come across so newbie...I can only sorta fix cars, so performance mods are out of the question :D)


    metal around cylinder heads reach 150C which causes localized vapor bubbles to form, it would be like taking a blow torch to a swimming pool, under the blow torch steam would form but few feet away in the pool the water temp could still be room temperature. Water wetter simply decreases the formation/size of bubbles in localized hot spots.

    @macklin01, yeah I dont get how water wetter got started with computers either, makes no sense at all, I guess someone just made a lot of assumptions based on water wetters marketing without bothering to look up how it works. A few people on XT have used it long ago when mixing metals was more common and always complained it coated metal, was difficult to clean off, and did just what you said, it acts like an insulator and significantly increased temps...but havent ever tried it myself.