Sustainability has, at last, secured a spot on the corporate agenda, thanks to a growing demand from both the industry and the general public to reduce the environmental impact of all businesses. And, because of their massive energy draw, data centers are on the hot seat for their energy consumption as key areas where responsible companies can show strides in reducing their carbon footprints.
Globally, data centers use 3% of the world’s electricity, and several models suggest that energy use is increasing potentially up to 10% of the global electricity supply in the next decade. This energy use is a dire concern but could potentially be mitigated, and reduce the sector’s carbon footprint if the electricity was generated from wind or solar farms. In reality, though, over 60% of the world’s electricity is still produced using fossil fuels. So, how can data centers find ways to lessen their impact on the environment?
The computing ecosystem is getting more power hungry as a result of the increasing dependency on everyday digital tools, growing use of AI and machine learning, evolution of the IoT, buildout of edge facilities, and deployment of 5G mobile networks. International Data Corp. expects that, by 2025, 152,000 new devices will be connecting to the internet every minute, bringing the total to 80 billion worldwide. To keep up with demand, data centers are implementing more powerful compute resources, which consume more energy and rapidly expand an organization’s carbon footprint.
The low-hanging fruit in building a sustainable data center is to install more energy-efficient UPSs, servers, and power distribution units (PDUs). Yet, to make a significant difference, data centers must address a major power draw: 40% of data center power goes into cooling, since massive computers stacked on top of each other get very hot. Air cooling can only capture 30% of the heat generated by servers, which means most of that power is wasted.
Liquid immersion cooling is much more efficient than air cooling and has emerged as one of the leading technologies to drive the greening of data centers — the immersion cooling fluid circulates around all of the components and captures 100% of server heat. Depending on the site, that waste heat can be used to power things, like manufacturing processes or the cooling infrastructure itself.
One advantages of liquid immersion cooling is that it is scalable — you can start small with just some of servers in the white space or deploy an edge date center, for example. And making the transformation from air cooled is not difficult. Servers used in immersion cooling are the same used in air cooling with a few modifications, like removing the fans. Providers throughout the liquid cooling ecosystem are working on new designs to make it even easier to switch — from the processors to the cooling fluid itself.
Data center capacity continues to grow and consume large amounts of power. Because the implementation of immersion cooling can materially reduce the environmental impact of data centers, data centers are looking to liquid cooling to improve sustainability and reduce carbon footprint.