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Two-Phase Liquid Immersion Cooling: A Game-Changer for Data Centers

Updated: Jun 15, 2023


Data centers are the backbone of the digital world, housing everything from emails and CRM databases to big data, artificial intelligence, and the images and articles we share online. However, these facilities consume a significant amount of energy, with estimates suggesting that data centers use between 200-400 TeraWatt Hours of energy annually, equating to roughly 1-1.2% of global energy demand. As the demand for data center capacity continues to rise, there is a pressing need for more efficient cooling solutions.

A 2022 case study by LiquidStack, a leader in immersion cooling solutions, explores the potential of Two-Phase Liquid Immersion Cooling (2-PIC) as a game-changing technology for data centers. The study compares two 36 MW data center concepts located hypothetically in Quincy, WA: a traditional direct evaporative air-cooled data center and a 2-PIC data center.


The Power of Two-Phase Liquid Immersion Cooling

2-PIC is a data center cooling methodology that cools by submerging racks in a non-conductive liquid, replacing traditional air-cooled methods. The study found that 2-PIC requires almost zero gallons of makeup water per year, compared to air-cooled systems, which can consume up to 8.25 million gallons annually.

Moreover, 2-PIC can provide similar cooling results with less energy consumption, saving up to 7,900 MWh per year compared to air-cooled data centers. This is partly due to the reduction in Power Distribution Units (PDUs), making the electrical distribution systems for 2-PIC systems more efficient.

Space and Cost Efficiency

In addition to being more efficient in terms of water and energy consumption, 2-PIC also offers the opportunity to reduce the total campus footprint compared to air-cooled systems. The study found potential savings of up to 32% in lot area and a 60% reduction in the data center building size. These reductions translate into a significant decrease in total project cost, equipment, and construction fees. The study estimated a potential savings of $123.5M for a 2-PIC system over an air-cooled system that provides the same computing power, with an average savings of over $3M/MW for a 2-PIC system versus air-cooled.


Looking Ahead

The study's findings suggest that 2-PIC could be a revolutionary solution for the data center industry, offering significant savings in energy, water, space, and cost. As the demand for data center capacity continues to rise, technologies like 2-PIC could play a crucial role in creating more sustainable and efficient data centers. However, widespread adoption of this technology will require further research and development, as well as a shift in industry standards and practices.

In terms of savings, the study estimates that a 2-PIC system could save up to $123.5 million in total project cost over an air-cooled system. This includes savings in equipment, construction fees, and operational costs. The average savings per MW for a 2-PIC system is over $3 million compared to an air-cooled system. Furthermore, the energy savings could be up to 7,900 MWh per year, and the water savings could be nearly 8.25 million gallons per year. These savings not only make 2-PIC a cost-effective solution but also a sustainable one.

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