Singapore: Scientists at NTU Singapore invent data center cooling spray

Apr 11, 2023 | Posted by MadalineDunn

When it comes to data center cooling, everyone's on the hunt for the latest innovative, efficient tech; and at Singapore's Nanyang Technical University (NTU), its research team is working on the latest solution. The group proposes cooling servers by spraying chips with fluid; dielectric fluid, to be specific. NTU Associate Professor Wong Teck Neng, leading the team, has described the system as "a 'chillerless' novel spraying architecture which has the capability of performing high heat flux cooling."  Prof Wong outlines that it is highly scalable and easily adaptable by modern data centers.

The solution was tested out on a 24U rack containing 12 servers, with the dielectric liquid sprayed on each CPU. Following this, the composition evaporates, lowering chip temperature. Further,  the solution operates in a closed loop model, which means that the liquid is condensed, collected and reused. It was found that the process enabled the systems to cool more effectively than other conventional methods. Further to this, it was found that the method can potentially reduce up to 26 per cent in both energy costs and carbon footprint.

Assoc Prof Wong, the Assistant Chair (Faculty) at the school, outlined:"Instead of cooling the entire data centre conventionally, we designed special sprays to aim directly at the CPU, the critical component which is the key source of heat in a data centre."

Citing the inspiration for the project,  Prof Wong said: 'If there is a fire breaking out on a piece of wood, we are taught to point the fire extinguisher at the base of the fire to put it out, not spray at the flames or around the fire to cool it down, since the fire will continue to burn at the source. Similarly, why are we spending an immense amount of energy cooling down the air around the heat source, when we should be cooling it directly?"

The project is supported by the National Research Foundation, Singapore, in association with the Green Data Centre Programme.