Shell, a prominent multinational energy corporation, is presently conducting a pilot programme for its cutting-edge ‘immersion cooling fluid’, which is intended to serve as a coolant for data centres, encompassing servers and other computing equipment.
During a roundtable discussion with Asian journalists, Shell’s Executive Vice President for Global Standards, Jason Wong, disclosed that the company’s “immersion cooling liquid” is presently undergoing pilot trials, commencing with Microsoft and subsequently with Alibaba in China. Upon successful completion of these trials, the product will be made available for widespread commercial adoption, including in the Asian market, which encompasses data centres in the Philippines.
Wong emphasised the necessity of these pilot initiatives to instill confidence in the marketplace, stating, “We are confident that it works, but we actually have to do this pilot for the data centres to have confidence to the marketplace to say… hey, this is working! Now, we are already having some breakthroughs with some of the data centre companies.”
Wong elaborated on the functioning of Shell’s immersion cooling fluid within data centres, elucidating that it circulates via natural convection or is actively pumped to dissipate heat from the components. He highlighted the environmental benefits of this approach, asserting, “so you’re absorbing the heat; and effectively, this is something that you are not making emissions.”
It was underscored that the efficient cooling of data centres is of paramount importance, as overheating computer servers processing vast amounts of data within networks can lead to disruptive outages in their operations.
Wong noted that a shift in mindset is necessary when employing liquid coolant for data centres, emphasising the importance of ensuring compatibility and the absence of adverse effects when the coolant comes into contact with the machines.
Shell contended that “full immersion in a thermally conductive, electrically non-conductive (dielectric) coolant is a highly efficient way to keep computer components cool.” Furthermore, the company’s cooling fluid has the potential to significantly reduce energy consumption, lower carbon dioxide emissions, and enhance location flexibility while reducing costs for data centres.
While many data centres presently rely on ‘air cooling’ for their servers, various alternative cooling solutions are emerging, including cooling liquids, water cooling, and in-row cooling. Given the Philippines’ aspirations to become a hub for data centres in the Southeast Asian region, industry stakeholders are actively seeking solutions to ensure the reliability and efficiency of their operations while simultaneously mitigating their carbon footprint and reducing costs.