Innovation That Matters

| Photo source NTU Singapore

Spray cooling lowers the carbon footprint of data centres

Computing & Tech

An enclosed system uses a special spray to cool server CPUs – saving energy and increasing server speeds


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Spotted: Data centres are a vital component of the global internet backbone – and with the rapid rise of cloud services and the Internet of Things (IoT), they are growing rapidly. However, data centres also use a huge amount of energy – imperilling the world’s attempts to achieve net zero. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), data centres are responsible for up to 1.5 per cent of global electricity consumption, with the average hyperscale facility consuming enough energy to power 37,000 homes.

Most of the energy used by data centres goes towards cooling. However, researchers from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore have recently invented a more sustainable method for cooling servers. The hottest component in a server is the central processing unit (CPU), which normally requires a dedicated air-cooled heatsink for heat dissipation. The team, led by Associate Professor Wong Teck Neng, developed a spray made up of non-conductive fluids that cools the CPU directly, without a heatsink.

The spray cools by using a combination of evaporation and boiling. The gases and excess fluids produced are collected in an enclosed system, condensed into liquid at temperatures of around 30 degrees Celsius, and recirculated back into the system for reuse. This method can also carry away more heat than air cooling, allowing CPUs to run faster.

In the future, Professor Wong and his team will look for partners to develop a larger pilot plant system to demonstrate the potential of spray cooling in an industrial setting.

Energy efficiency for data centres is going to be vital in reaching net zero targets. This is why Springwise is spotting more innovations aimed at making servers more sustainable. Some of these include using waste heat from servers to heat public swimming pools and novel server designs that provide more efficient cooling.

Written By: Lisa Magloff




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