Air Cooling Definition & Meaning

Air cooling is a method of dissipating heat. It works by expanding the surface area of the object needing to be cooled.This is done by adding cooling fins or finned coils to the surface of the object by either making them integral or attaching them to the object’s surface. This can move heat out of a casing, such as a computer case.

Another way air is cooled is by increasing airflow over the object needing to be cooled. With this method, a fan is used to blow air into or onto the object. This can be used in combination with heat sinks, which are designed to lower the temperature of an electronic device by dissipating heat in the surrounding air. This increases total surface area affected, allowing for greater cooling effectiveness.

Air cooling is limited by its low heat density. It cannot sufficiently cool a small overheated component. Because air has limited mass, air cooling is best for cooling components that have a larger mass and bigger surface area. Heat density can be fatal for electrical components, causing a shorter lifespan, data loss, system crashes, and possible permanent damage.

In any case, the air used to cool an object must be cooler than the object or surface being cooled, consistent with the second law of thermodynamics.

Central processing unit cooling

Electronics elements can produce high levels of heat that causes damage. A central processing unit (CPU) requires cooling to keep components from overheating and increase the lifetime of other components. A CPU can be cooled using either air cooling or liquid cooling. Air cooling within a CPU uses a metal heat sink with a large fan that pulls air away from the processor.

Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal is a freelance business and technology writer covering Internet technologies and online business since the late '90s.

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