Liquid cooling, a reality?

If we talk about air conditioning in the Data Centers it is undeniable that the star is air cooling. Although there are alternatives, such as liquid cooling, many are still afraid of this system, not so new, but little implemented in the daily reality of Data Centers.

The data, information and Data Centers reality is, as is well known, constantly evolving. The use of the cloud and its resources and the virtual data center must be supported by physical equipment or IT hardware; equipment that consumes energy and needs to be cooled.

Conventional IT equipment cools its boards through air. For this, the equipment itself manages the necessary airflow through the fans that it has. The regular operation temperature of a board is around 60ºC, being able to reach at most around 80ºC before being turned off to protect the electronics.

In contrast, liquid cooling does not require fans and can take advantage of the natural convection that occurs in liquids due to the significant difference in density at different temperatures. That is why the base boards of the equipment can be cooled through liquids with temperatures close to 50ºC directly in contact with them. For this, said liquids must have certain antistatic and permeable properties.

Liquid cooling offers a very interesting alternative for high density installations and equipment, providing thermal solutions for, for example, power densities per rack from 25 kW to 100 kW. These climate capabilities are able to meet the new challenges for a, ever higher, energy and high-performance demand.

There are plenty of alternatives to implement these systems in our DC, for example, liquid cooling systems integrated in the racks in which we can have both servers that are cooled by air as servers cooled by liquid: all in the same cabinet.

In terms of regulations, designers, engineers and even trade can rely on various studies and on the standards and guidelines of ASHRAE (the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) that since 2006 has liquid cooling in its air conditioning categories.

As we said at the beginning of the article, the increasing (and enormous) magnitude of data and connectivity that will require greater bandwidth every day will force Data Center installations to have industrial-scale cooling. Air cooling may be unable to meet those levels of performance and density.

The standardization of liquid refrigeration systems and its adaptation to various Data Centers sizes and needs can make its manufacturing more cost-effective. An air conditioning solution whose possibilities are increasing.