The big rise of immersion liquid cooling in data center market

A huge main trend is going on in the data center sector worldwide, moving forward boosting energy saving and related to the adoption of immersion liquid cooling solutions., which in Tempco have been already developed using TCOIL dimple jacket exchangers.
Giants in the field of IDC infrastructures on the Chinese market are already implementing immersion liquid cooling solutions since a few years now, achieving relevant energy savings along with a series of other advantages, compared to traditional air cooling systems.

data center liquid cooling

We have already introduced the concept of PUE, defined as the ratio of the total amount of energy used by a data center facility to the energy actually delivered to computing devices. Today the PUE value is an important cost factor, even though not the only one, that data center architects must consider when evaluating the energy efficiency of an IDC, also becoming a necessary condition for compliance. Best practices already operating since 2018 demonstrate that the switch to immersion liquid cooling solutions can increase the energy saving by 12,8% in a data center, reducing PUE value under 1,09.

The achievable saving is even higher, because a liquid cooling system in data centers eliminate the use of server fans, increasing the energy efficiency up to 21,5% and reducing noise levels inside the IDC, turning it into a very quiet and efficient environment. Even more important is the benefit offered by the switch from air to liquid as heat dissipation fluid: liquids have indeed a higher heat dissipation rate compared to air. Thus the main advantage of immersion liquid cooling is that it allows to use a fluid at less low temperatures compared to the low temperatures required by air-cooled IDC scenarios. High capacity compressors of chillers can thus be eliminated, leading the way to the use of free cooling systems with significant energy saving on utilities such as chillers and HVAC.

Immersion-Cooling data center

In order to give an idea of the energy saving granted by a liquid-cooled solution, let’s make the example of a chiller that supply refrigerated water at 10° C with a thermal work of 105 KW and ambient air at 30° C. The compressor employs a 30 KW electric motor + pump (2,2 – 3 KW) + fans for the air condenser (approx. 4 KW). By eliminating the chiller using a free cooling solution, it will remain the pump and the fans’ power (maybe with a slight increase for the fans, by +5/10%), but the high power consumption of the compressor is completely eliminated.

In liquid cooling of IT equipments, the use of brazed plate heat exchangers also allows to separate the dielectric fluid from the cooling water, with a very narrow loss of temperature, thanks to the efficient thermal exchange rate of plate heat exchangers.

Further on, in liquid cooling of an IDC the value of PUE no longer depends on changes in the weather area of installation, so that the site selection for the data center can be based on its own business needs. In a liquid-cooled scenario the server is also sealed in container due to isolation, avoiding the effects of humidity, temperature and dust on electronic components, dropping the failure rate of hard disks by about 50%.

liquid cooling IT data center

Immersion liquid cooling, using horizontal cabinets, also makes wiring easier to standardize. Some projects are also on development for robotic arms that support engineers and operators in liquid-cooled IDC by lifting equipment for routine maintenance, filling and replenishing operations.

Data center liquid cooling clearly requires a re-design of electric components and a proper selection of constructive materials employed, in order to be suitable for direct contact with the various kind of liquids that can be selected. Air cooling and liquid cooling will thus likely coexist for a long time still, but the proportion of immersion liquid-cooled solutions will gradually increase.

edge-computingBy the way, the number of data centers around the world is constantly raising up, in order to satisfy the increasing computing power demand caused by the increase of big data amount, AI applications, cloud and edge computing, 5G. More and more, data centers will have to ensure higher energy efficiency and power savings, in great part relying on IDC infrastructure cooling costs, leading the way to a bright future for liquid cooling solutions.

How to select heaters in thermoregulating units design

A new video on our Tempco YouTube channel is about the selection of electric heaters in thermoregulating units.
The range of Tempco’s Treg thermoregulating units enables to regulate the temperature of fluids employed in industrial processes, in a wide temperature range from -20° C up to +300°C. Depending on the temperature level required, the units work using different thermal fluids, such as glycol water, diathermic oil or silicon oils.

Electric heaters are employed to heat up the water or the oil, aimed to work as thermal vectors when other heat sources are not available, such as steam.

Their function is very delicate, as they have often to heat up fluids with significant thermal capacities, but at the same time they have to preserve to fluid to be heated. At this purpose, there are some critical temperature limits for the fluid that must not be surpassed. The value to consider is the surface temperature of the heater at its contact with the fluid.

Diathermic oil requires in particular lower surface temperatures of the heater, in order to avoid the cracking of the oil itself. When carbonized, the deteriorated oil creates a coating on the heater surface, lowering its thermal conductivity and heating efficiency, also leading to collateral effects such as the burn or short circuit of the heater.

Heaters must thus be sized according to a very low specific heat, that is watts dissipated by cm2, using specific charts during the design of thermoregulating units, in order to maintain heater’s surface temperature within the values allowed for the fluid employed. Temperature sensors are thus integrated inside the heaters, in direct contact with the external surface of the heating element checking its surface temperature, limiting the functioning when design limits are exceeded.

Heaters can have different shapes and be made in several materials, such as carbon steel, copper and stainless steel, according to the kind of fluid they are supposed to work with. In our Treg thermoregulating units we employ custom made cored heaters, with very low surface temperatures and specific heat.

A low specific heat requires a greater surface, meaning bigger heaters and higher costs in order to achieve the temperature needed. Nevertheless this measure ensure a longer service life for the heater, and therefore a longer service life of the thermoregulating unit, resulting in important savings in the long term.

Thermoregulating units for hazardous area ratings in USA

Our Tempco thermoregulating units are often supplied to customers that operate in Atex environments, aimed to work in hazardous explosive atmosphere such as in chemical and pharmaceutical sectors. An example are these thermoregulating units for filter dryers and reactors that we’ve supplied to a North American customer a few months ago.

Centraline Atex termoregolazione

In this case, USA regulations required the thermoregulating units to be in execution compliant with hazardous area ratings FM IS / I / 1 / ABCDEFG simple apparatus, if installed per MS50-0923/NC (intrinsically safe).

Class 1 – Division 1 – Groups C&D
Class 2 – Division 1 – Groups F&G – T3C

Centraline termoregolazione FM approval

This is the USA equal to our Atex Directive. The thermoregulating units are equipped with automatic/pneumatic valves, motor and pump all compliant with the above regulations.

Tempco centraline Atex USA

Immersion cooling at the Marina di Loano Seaport

Heat pumps, TCOIL dimple jacket exchangers and in depth cooling leveraging water temperature of the sea. Or lake water.
We explained in the past months some heat pumps cooling applications we have developed that employ the low temperatures of sea or lake water available in order to dissipate heat produced by the operations of heat pumps.

scambiatori dimple jacket porto Loano

The application gets interesting thanks to the use of special immersion plate heat exchangers, able to work in direct contact with sea water, as it is in the installation we’ve made last July in a seaport in Liguria. Once closed the season, we have received an enthusiastic feedback from our customer, being the Marina of Loano, a beautiful modern tourist port in the Italian Liguria region.

scambiatori immersione Marina di Loano

The substitution of traditional heat exchangers with the new immersion dimple jacket exchangers allowed indeed not only to avoid the problems of clogging that occurred to the old cooling system, but the customer also says that it allowed to achieve an energy saving of 40 euro/day, thanks to the implementation of the new kind of immersion cooling heat exchangers. A great satisfaction for both sides!

scambiatori immersione pompe di calore Loano

How does it work a centrifugal pump?

Back on track with our Tempco tutorial video series in this new year, let’s talk about fluid motion, being it water, oil or other kind of fluids. In particular let’s talk about how a centrifugal pump works.

A centrifugal pump is a hydraulic machine in shape of a rotative pump, that can be directly coupled with an electric motor or via a joint. As it often happens, Tempco customers ask how centrifugal pumps should work in order to operate properly ‘in range’.
If we look at a common functioning curve of a centrifugal pump, flow rate and pressure values happen to be inversely proportional: when flow rate is at its maximum the pressure is minimum, viceversa maximum pressure corresponds with minimum flow rate.

pompa centrifuga pressione portata

With the outlet of the pump completely closed, with water delivery off, we’ll thus have maximum pressure value. Customers often contact us telling the pump is undergoing a huge effort while pushing water at a high pressure. If we take a look at the electric power absorption curve of the motor, we’ll see that the power input of the electric motor is inversely proportional to the pressure value generated by the pump.

rendimento pompa centrifuga

Otherwise, a maximum pressure value is combined with minimum power consumption of the electric motor, which instead goes maximum when the pressure is at its minimum.
The reason relies upon the mechanical functioning of a centrifugal pump, which moves the maximum flow rate when the pressure is at its minimum, pushing high weights of fluid putting the electric motor under big efforts, meaning high power consumption.

To make an empirical example, the same happens when we try to move a huge weight for a short space distance, it takes a very big effort.

The consequence is that in case the decrease of pressure gets no limitations, letting the pump operating without pressure charge, the pump will exceed its operating range, triggering the intervention of the thermal protection of the electric motor.
Pumps have indeed a limit toward upper pressures, since they cannot exceed a certain maximum pressure, but on the other side they can push flow rates much higher than the design value of the electric motor, setting the motor in out of range stress, that causes the intervention of the thermal protection to avoid the burn out of the motor itself.

To avoid this issues, in our plants we usually put a gate valve on water delivery, which increases the pressure while closing it, making the pump operate back in the correct range, with proper design flow rates, thus ensuring that the motor won’t absorb power in excess.

Measuring energy efficiency of data centers with the PUE

While the quantity of data collected by sensors and IoT devices increases, as well as the computing power required by AI and machine learning applications, the energy consumption of data centers is becoming more and more a very hot topic.

Hot as it’s in fact the amount of waste heat produced by servers and IT equipments in their operations, so that cooling systems in data centers are a crucial asset to ensure the efficiency and reliability of a data center. There are some methods of calculating energy efficiency in data centers, the most popular being the PUE metricPower Usage Effectiveness -, as described by Matteo Mezzanotte in this very interesting Submer blog’s article. The PUE was introduced by the Green Grid, a non profit consortium of IT professionals aimed to improve energy efficiency and lower the environmental impact of data centers.

data center cooling

The PUE is obtained as the ratio of the total amount of energy used by a data center facility, including utilities such as cooling, lighting and energy losses by UPSs, to the energy actually delivered to computing equipment. Green Grid also introduced its reciprocal measurement, the DCIEData center infrastructure efficiency, defined as the ratio of total amount of energy consumed by the IT equipment to the overall energy consumption of a data center.

An ideal PUE is 1.0, with all the power consumed by the IT devices. According to Green Grid, the average PUE value of data centers around the world is 1.8, meaning that about the 45% of all the energy consumed by a data center is employed for non-computing purposes.

PUE data center energy efficiency

Submer also created a SmartPUE, a useful tool to evaluate a data center efficiency by calculating its actual PUE. We also re-launch a suggestion made by Submer to the Green Grid to include the positive effect of the recovery and re-use of waste heat to the PUE and DCIE equations, as well as focusing the benefits of the adoption of immersion cooling systems in data centers. Cooling servers by placing them into dielectric baths, a kind of application we also develop in Tempco with TCOIL immersion cooling systems, allows indeed to achieve several benefits, above all an important reduction of energy consumption when compared to air cooling solutions, a more stable and constant thermal environment and, last but not least, physical space saving which allows to increase IT hardware and computing density, achieving better PUE values.

Immersion cooling of servers also brings a lot more benefits, as this other very much interesting article on the submer blog explains. We would also like to add that immersion cooling allows to employ fluids at a less low temperature compared to air cooling solutions in data center. That’s a very interesting topic, which we’ll gladly approach more in depth very soon.

raffreddamento a immersione data center

Tempco Wishes! Happy Holidays from Tempco!

It has been a year full of challenges along with great satisfactions for Tempco, a year that brought many important innovations that carry us into a 2020 full of energies and wiling to grow up always further with you!

And as every year, we would like to wish you a Very Merry and Warm Christmas and an Amazing New Year!

Tempco happy-holidays 2020
Happy Holidays from Tempco!

Energy saving and IoT, chatting with Tempco part. 2

Follow-up of the chat we did with La Termotecnica, let’s go on talking about energy saving, a really main driver in all of Tempco’s projects. In order to maximize energy saving in industrial thermoregulation, cooling and heating solutions, we’ve developed a series of thermoregulating units that employ power modulation on electric motors. Whenever is it possible, we always try to use fans and pumps with EC motors, equipped with inverters enabling to adapt pressure and flow rate to the effective needs of the process.

We have also developed a series of thermoregulating units with electric heating equipped with continuous variation of the power capacity, aimed to provide customer the effective power required in a just-in-time basis, exactly when it’s needed.

Free cooling systems are another application we develop since many years to achieve energy saving in industrial applications. A new project is instead the iTempco platform. The project was born in January 2019, but we were thinking about something similar for a long time yet: iTempco is a condition monitoring platform of our units, which allows to remotely check via cloud both the functioning and the performances of our thermal machines, aimed to implement predictive maintenance services. In addition, it allows us to understand how our equipments work, and how they are sized referred to real customer’s needs, providing us a feedback loop to optimize the engineering of our machines, in a data-driven mode.

Finally, this Tempcoblog you are reading is something that goes on since 15 years, aimed to open a contact window with our customers where we can give updates on our latest solutions for heat exchange and energy recovery problems. I can take this opportunity to say a big Thank you to everyone who is still following us with such continuity after all these years, for your attention and contribution! And also for the nice feedback we’re having for the Video series that during 2019 we started uploading on our Tempco YouTube channel.

Looking at the future of Tempco, we have very clear ideas: we want to keep growing enormously, in order to be able to give customers better and better support in their energy saving and temperature regulation applications. The Tempco team is really a close-knit and skilled group, and it allow us to react with very short times to market demands. In Tempco we love challenging projects, because this is not really a job for us, it is truly a passion!

A quick chat with Tempco

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure to chat with La Termotecnica, the reference technical publication for the Italian energy and thermal energy technology industry.

To introduce Tempco, let’s say we are a company that supports production industries to achieve thermoregulation, cooling and heating tasks in their production processes, leveraging energy recovery. Nowadays Tempco systems have several important references, and can be found in the CERN’s particle accelerator in Geneva but also in automotive ovens employed for the body curing of carbon fibre structures of F1 vehicles. Our solutions are also a crucial asset to cool down carbon-ceramic brakes that slow down jets on aircraft carrier’s decks, as well as for thermoregulating active ingredients employed in a variety of pharmaceutical drugs.

The special production is a main part of our portfolio, following a philosophy that we’ve called SCF, standard custom flexibility. Starting with standard products allow us to customize solutions aimed to meet individual customer’s needs, solving their problems in thermoregulation, heating and cooling achieving the maximum efficiency, flexibility and with shorter development times.

A main place in our offering is held by plate heat exchangers, let’s say we love them a lot! We have our own production line of plate heat exchangers, both in gasketed plate type, starting from DN32 up to DN500, and in brazed plate type, copper and nickel. We also offer a special series of brazed plate exchangers, designed to withstand water hammer effects and extreme temperature variations, and brazed exchangers that resist pressures up to 100 bars and high temperatures up to 900° C.

Finally, an important place is also held by our TREG thermoregulating units, born as a natural extension of our heat exchangers core business. Customers that used to see our expertise in plate heat exchangers started asking us if we would have been able to assembly them in a thermoregulation system. From there it has been an easy step forward for us, simply implementing a production system for thermoregulating units, special ones for power plants especially. Then we went even further, by obtaining the Atex certification, so that we can also offer thermoregulating units and skid systems suited for explosive environments.

Temperature regulation of wheat grains

TCOIL dimple jacket exchangers in application for the cooling and heating of wheat grits, coming from silos or aimed to be stored in silos. This is a very common application in north-American markets.
Wheat grains are indeed heated to get dry before these are stored, or otherwise cooled when coming from silos that are too hot to allow the wheat to be exposed to ambient air.

dimple jacket wheat grains cooling

The TCOIL exchanger with spot-welded and inflated plates in this case is composed by a battery of 30 plates with double dimple, each plate has a size of 1000 x 1000 mm and the plates are mounted with 20 mm pitch. The material is AISI 304, with thickness of 12/10 mm of the metal sheets and two flanged connections type DN 80 PN10 with square collector.

Tempco TCOIL raffreddamento frumento

The dimple jacket heat exchanger battery is immersed in a parallelepiped shaped vessel, within which wheat grains are poured. Low pressure steam flows inside the plates to achieve heating, while refrigerated water at a pressure of 3 bar is employed for the cooling task.
A very similar application has been realized for the cooling/heating of granular plastic materials.

raffreddamento materiali plastici TCOIL

dimple jacket plastic grains cooling