Inside be quiet!

How do heat pipes work?

Heat pipes are an essential part of cooling systems, as they are the ones transporting the heat produced by the processors to the heat sink. But how do they work, and how are they built? Let’s check out the little tubes!

The origins of heat pipes are usually very big rolls on which really long copper pipes are coiled up. A dedicated machine unspools, straightens and cuts them, after which they are cleaned, filled with a mixture of copper powder, placed under a thick heating cover and baked at a staggering 980°C – a process that takes about eight hours and is called “sintering”. In the final stages all the air is sucked out of the copper pipe, which is then filled with distilled water – only a few milliliters per pipe.
Removing the heat is generally very straightforward: The heat pipes take up the heat from the processor (in conjunction with the cooler‘s base plate) and transport it to the fins of the heat sink to dissipate it – either in all directions or away from the heat sink by utilizing a fan. Which makes much more sense.
Internally the process is slightly more complicated, as the aforementioned distilled water plays an important role here: At the base plate, where the heat is the highest, the liquid is being evaporated whereby it ascends to the cooler regions – where it dispenses the heat little by little which condenses the vapor and, due to the capillarity of the internal copper mixture, sends the resulting water back to the base plate where the whole process restarts. This continuously changing aggregate state is very important as a pure copper pipe could transport the heat fundamentally less efficiently.

We’ve prepared a video which shows you the whole process in more detail: