[Energy Efficient] Direct contact Liquid-Cooling in Computers, Electronics

Cloud computing is on the high, and you know it takes millions of computers to achieve that much computing power.

Each of these data centers drill huge holes in company’s pocket because they are Energy hogs. A single datacenter can consume anywhere between 50kW to MillionWatts. What you may not know is more than 80% of the energy is spent in keeping the Data center cool and less than 20% is actually required for running servers (computers).

So its obvious, if you wish to make datacenters Greener, you’ve to worry about PowerSavings in the AirConditioning department. But its not easy to suck the heat up from electronics and exchange it with environment to achieve ambient temperatures.

Google, Facebook, Amazon, and several Cloud computing Giants have worked hard in trying to make their datacenters Green. Google uses liquid cooling and most of the energy comes from Solar cells kept in Googleplex. However, not so innovative companies still rely on ACs for keeping their datacenters cool. This has very high cost of operation. Air cooling is inefficient because it is a poor conductor, produces diffuse general heat and requires energy-chomping high powered fans, said the boffins.

How Liquid Cooling works

For years, liquid cooling has worked through heat sinks where a coolant is pumped in and out of Processor/GPU heatsink to drain the heat away. This liquid then goes through heat exchanger, which basically drains the heat to the outside world. This is very power efficient but it does not draw 100% of heat away from the CPU cores. The reason is obvious, liquid does not come in direct contact with electronics, and hence cannot transfer 100% of the heat from the hottest spots in electronics.

Liquid cooling with direct contact to Electronics, without making electronics Wet

Researchers from University of Leeds School has come up with an innovative alternate. They designed a new liquid that does not “wet” the electronics when in direct contact. What this means is that you dip any electronics into this liquid, without affecting them.

Fundamentally, this special liquid is an insulator. It does not conduct any electricity and hence protects the electronics. The technology is ironically called “Wet servers” coz it dips your servers in liquid.

Dunking servers in new magic liquid 3M Novec reduces the cooling system’s energy use by 80 – 97 per cent, compared to cooling systems that use air.

3M Novec is also a thousand times better at conducting heat than water, and one low-powered fan in a chamber of 3M Novec is adequate to chill a server array.

Dr Nikil Kapur, explains:

The fact that this system is completely enclosed raises a host of possibilities. It does not interact with its environment in the way an air-cooled server does, so you could put it in an extreme environment like the desert. It is also completely silent. You could have it on a submarine or in a classroom.

In the current prototype, Novec cooling circuit transfers the heat to a primary water circuit, which can pass it onto a secondary set of water pipes. Because of the high cooling efficiency of the system, the output water can reach temperatures of up to 50°C (122°F), hot enough to be used for radiators.

More than five years of research, innovation and collaboration have gone into Iceotope’s technology. The basic principle of the design has many applications and, while a few years away, there is no reason why every home shouldn’t make better use of the surplus heat from consumer electronics, imagine having your PC or TV plumbed into the central heating system.

Finally, datacenters can go green and save hell a lot of energy for rest of us.

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  • Vishak

    This looks a very interesting concept. Even for gamers who used different types of cooling techniques for their system; even they used cooling fans like Kingston HyperX for RAM modules or fans over HDD bays. But now with this direct-liquid cooling technique, a gaming system can be dunked completely in this liquid without having to invest on any other cooling tool and one could keep playing without worrying about system overheat issues. And it would be advantageous too as the heat dissipated will be used for central heating in the houses.

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