Embracing Liquid Cooling Technologies: A Sustainable Solution for Reducing Data Center Emissions and Maximizing Efficiency

In today’s digital world, the demand for data services is rapidly growing. With the increasing reliance on technology, there is also a pressing need for the efficient and clean delivery of these services. However, data centers are among the most energy-intensive facilities, and their environmental impact cannot be overlooked. Here, we take a closer look at how liquid cooling technology is emerging as a sustainable solution for data centers.

The Environmental Impact of Data Centers

The energy use of data centers has been a concern for decades. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), data centers are responsible for nearly 1% of energy-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This puts them on par with the aviation industry in terms of global carbon footprint. As data centers continue to grow, their impact on the environment is likely to increase.

The Need for Increased Cooling Capacity

One of the major challenges of data centers is maintaining an optimal temperature within their facilities, which is crucial to ensure the smooth functioning of servers and other hardware. However, the increasing density of servers and rising temperatures in many parts of the world are putting pressure on existing cooling technologies. As a result, data center operators are looking for more efficient and sustainable cooling solutions.

Limitations with the use of air cooling

Air cooling has conventionally been the most popular method for maintaining a suitable temperature in data centers. However, this method has certain limitations that are becoming increasingly apparent. For instance, the volume of data being processed is growing at an unprecedented rate, and air cooling may not be sufficient to meet these needs. Additionally, air cooling is energy-intensive and can lead to high operating costs.

Liquid cooling technology as a solution

To cope with the ever-increasing demand for data services, liquid cooling technology has emerged as a solution that offers advantages over air cooling. Liquid-cooled systems use a heat transfer fluid that absorbs heat directly from the servers, allowing for much higher density and more efficient cooling. Furthermore, liquid cooling technology can reduce energy consumption and lower operating costs.

Advantages of Liquid Cooling Technology

A recent study conducted by Cundall found that liquid cooling technology outperforms conventional air cooling in many aspects. Liquid cooling technology offers greater flexibility in design, allowing for more efficient and effective cooling than traditional air-cooled servers. Furthermore, liquid cooling systems can be designed to be highly modular, making it easier to add capacity as demand grows.

Cost Efficiency of Liquid Cooling Technology

In hyperscale, colocation, and edge computing scenarios, Cundall found that the total cost of cooling IT equipment per kW consumed in liquid versus the base case of current air cooling technology varied from 13-21% less. This demonstrates the cost benefits of adopting liquid cooling technology rather than air cooling systems. Furthermore, the use of liquid cooling technology can achieve greater energy efficiency and lower carbon emissions, which are crucial for meeting sustainability goals.

Combining Liquid and Air Cooling Techniques

While liquid cooling technology offers many advantages, it is not a complete replacement for air cooling. A combination of liquid and air cooling techniques will be essential for providing a transition, especially for legacy instances, to the kind of efficiency and emission-conscious cooling needs of current and future facilities. Combining the two technologies also offers greater redundancy, reliability, and overall system availability.

The development of liquid cooling technology

Developments in liquid cooling technology are a step forward that will enable operators and service providers to meet increasing demand while ensuring compliance with sustainability obligations. Liquid cooling technology is now widely available from many vendors and can be integrated into a range of data center designs.

Collaboration with vendors and service providers

To achieve the full benefits of liquid cooling technology, collaboration with a broad spectrum of vendors and service providers is essential. Cooling technology providers can work with hardware manufacturers and data center operators to ensure that cooling systems meet the demands of the digital economy while contributing towards a livable future.

Liquid cooling technology has emerged as an efficient and sustainable solution for data centers. It offers numerous advantages over traditional air-cooled servers, reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions. By working collaboratively with the broad spectrum of vendors and service providers, cooling technology providers can ensure that the digital economy develops to the benefit of all while contributing towards a sustainable future. Adopting liquid cooling technology is not only a smart business decision but also a responsible choice.

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