The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced up to $42 million in funding to overcome technology barriers associated with the development of high-performance, energy-efficient cooling solutions for data centers. Used to house computers, storage systems, and computing infrastructure, data centers account for approximately 2% of total U.S. electricity production while data center cooling can account for up to 40% of data center energy usage overall. DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) will fund projects that seek to reduce the amount of energy data centers use for cooling to lower the operational carbon footprint associated with powering and cooling data centers. This funding will support President Joe Biden’s goals to reach net-zero carbon emissions economy-wide by no later than 2050.

“Extreme weather events, like the soaring temperatures much of the country experienced this summer, also impact data centers which connect critical computing and network infrastructure and must be kept at certain temperatures to remain operational,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Creating solutions to cool data centers efficiently and reduce the associated carbon emissions supports the technological breakthroughs needed to fight climate change and secure our clean energy future.” 

ARPA-E's Cooling Operations Optimized for Leaps in Energy, Reliability, and Carbon Hyperefficiency for Information Processing Systems (COOLERCHIPS) funding program aims to develop highly efficient and reliable cooling systems that will enable a new class of efficient power-dense computational systems, data centers, and modular systems. The program will prioritize four technical categories for cooling system innovation opportunities:  

  • Energy-efficient cooling solutions for next generation high power density servers;
  • High-power density modular data centers that can be operated anywhere efficiently;
  • Software and modeling tool development to design and optimize data centers’ energy use, CO2 footprint, reliability, and cost, simultaneously; and
  • Facilities and best practices for efficient evaluation and demonstration of transformational technologies developed under the program.