A tubular device that is very efficient in transferring heat. Using a metal container (aluminum, copper, etc.) that holds a liquid (water, acetone, etc.) under pressure, the inner surface of the tube is lined with a porous material that acts as a wick. When heat is applied to the outer area of the tube, the liquid inside the tube boils and vaporizes into a gas that moves through the tube seeking a cooler location where it condenses. Using capillary action, the wick transports the condensed liquid back to the evaporation area. See heat sink.|
A variety of liquids and wicks are used to make a heat pipe, but the principle is the same. The liquid evaporates into a gas that travels to the cooler end of the pipe, condenses back into liquid and returns via the wick.
In this high-end TNN500A computer cabinet from Zalman (www.zalmanusa.com), the heat pipe transfers the heat from the CPU to the wall of the case, which acts as a giant heat sink. This combination of heat pipe and case eliminates the need for a noisy fan.