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Immersion cooling fluid with bubbles
The next generation of data centers is here.
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Immersion cooling for data centers

  • The rise of the data economy is fundamentally changing the way we live and our always-on, highly-integrated world is pushing businesses to operate at an ever-increasing pace. Almost every aspect of our daily lives — smart devices, homes, cities and autonomous vehicles — relies on what is happening inside data centers.

    However, these centers come at a tremendous cost in energy consumption, water use, footprint and more. It’s clear — we need faster, smarter, more energy-efficient and more sustainable data centers.

    By transitioning data centers from traditional cooling methods to immersion cooling with 3M fluids, businesses can better prepare for the unprecedented performance requirements of the future while managing costs and the impact on our natural resources.

    Enter what would otherwise be impossible — a new era of data centers.

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Data point diagram graphic

Discover what 3M fluids can do for five different data center applications.

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Immersion cooling with 3M™ Fluorinert™ Electronic Liquids and 3M™ Novec™ Engineered Fluids can help improve efficiency while reducing costs and dependency on natural resources center — from design and construction to maintenance and operations. A next-generation data center is right around the corner — let 3M science help get you there.

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    Hyperscale

    Strategy. Performance. Cost. Sustainability.

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      Geographically and environmentally agnostic

      Deploy data centers with more consistent cooling infrastructure globally, regardless of location decisions.

      Simpler data center designs to scale more efficiently

      Scale more efficiently with smaller data centers and simpler data center topologies (e.g., mechanical, electrical, networking). Simplify data center design by eliminating the need for complex airflow management.

      Reduce capital and operational expenses

      Address new workload needs while reducing capital expenditure by minimizing or eliminating air-cooling infrastructure (e.g., chillers, CRACs, CRAHs, PDUs, RPPs, telecom/networking, facility footprint). With increased cooling efficiency, electricity costs dedicated to ancillary cooling needs can be reduced.

      Reduce Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) and water usage

      With PUEs as low as 1.03, build more power-efficient and sustainable data centers. Also, reduce or eliminate water waste with either single-phase or two-phase immersion cooling through the use of dry coolers.

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    Supercomputing

    Strategy. Performance. Cost. Sustainability.

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      Greater performance and cooling efficiency

      Support new or more compute-intensive workloads that traditional cooling solutions struggle to cool in an efficient and cost-effective way through an increase in floating point operations per second (FLOPS) per watt.

      Reduce Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) and water usage

      With PUEs as low as 1.03, build more power-efficient and sustainable supercomputers. Also, eliminate water waste with two-phase immersion cooling through the use of dry coolers, and reduce or eliminate water waste with single-phase immersion cooling through the use of dry coolers.

      Reduce operational expenses

      With increased cooling efficiency, electricity costs dedicated to ancillary cooling needs can be reduced.

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    Enterprise HPC

    Strategy. Performance. Cost. Sustainability.

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      Greater power and cooling efficiency

      Support new or more compute-intensive workloads that traditional cooling solutions struggle to cool in an efficient and cost-effective way.

      Lower latency

      Help reduce delays by running latency-sensitive workloads in denser, space-optimized data centers or server closets closer to the user.

      Increase hardware reliability

      Lower junction temperatures as well as reduced temperature swings and hot spots increase the reliability of your operations. Mitigate common hardware failures by minimizing moving parts (e.g., fans) that are necessary for traditional cooling methods.

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    Edge/5G

    Strategy. Performance. Cost. Sustainability.

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      Geographically and environmentally agnostic

      Install edge systems with consistent cooling infrastructure globally, regardless of environmental variations (e.g., cold/hot, humid/dry). Denser form factors also better enable space- and weight-sensitive applications.

      Roadmap to future power density needs

      Deploy high-density edge units with small form factors engineered to support current and future workloads.

      Lower latency

      Help reduce delays by running latency-sensitive workloads in denser, space-optimized edge units closer to the user.

      Extend life of assets

      Sealed immersion-cooled units protect IT hardware from environmental contaminants such as dust and moisture. A reduction in moving parts also helps improve reliability and extends the life of edge units.

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    Cryptocurrency

    Strategy. Performance. Cost. Sustainability.

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      Greater performance per watt

      Gain an edge with immersion cooling by increasing hash rates through overclocking. Allocate more power toward mining and other profit-generating operations, given increased gains in cooling efficiency.

      Reduce capital and operational expenses

      Lower capital expenditure by minimizing or eliminating air-cooling infrastructure (e.g., chillers, CRACs, CRAHs, PDUs, RPPs, telecom/networking, facility footprint). With increased cooling efficiency, electricity costs dedicated to ancillary cooling needs can be reduced.


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Liquid cooling techniques enabled by 3M fluids

3M fluids can be used for single-phase and two-phase immersion cooling applications, as well as single-phase and two-phase direct-to-chip applications.

  • Single-phase immersion cooling diagram
  • Single-phase immersion cooling

    In single-phase immersion cooling, fluid remains in its liquid phase. Electronic components are directly immersed in dielectric liquid in a sealed but readily-accessible enclosure where heat from electronic components is transferred to the fluid. Pumps are often used to flow the heated fluid to a heat exchanger, where it is cooled and cycled back into the enclosure.

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  • Two-phase immersion cooling diagram
  • Two-phase immersion cooling

    In two-phase immersion cooling, fluid is boiled and condensed, exponentially increasing heat transfer efficiency. Electronic components are directly immersed in dielectric liquid in a sealed but readily-accessible enclosure where heat from electronic components causes the fluid to boil, producing vapor that rises from the liquid. The vapor condenses on a heat exchanger (condenser) within the tank, transferring heat to facility water that flows outside of the data center.

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  • Direct-to-chip cooling diagram
  • Direct-to-chip cooling

    Direct-to-chip cooling rejects heat by pumping fluid through cold plates attached to electronic components. The fluid never makes direct contact with electronics. While non-dielectric fluids (e.g., water glycol) are often used in direct-to-chip cooling, dielectric fluids can be used in direct-to-chip applications to mitigate risks associated with leaks, increasing hardware/IT equipment reliability. Direct-to-chip cooling can be implemented using single-phase and two-phase technologies.


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Discover the right 3M fluid for your liquid cooling needs

  • Fluorinert electronic liquid

    3M Fluorinert Electronic Liquids

    3M Fluorinert Electronic Liquids have set the industry standard for direct-contact electronics cooling for over 60 years. These extremely inert, fully-fluorinated liquids have exceptionally high dielectric strength and excellent material compatibility. 3M Fluorinert Electronic Liquids are clear, odorless, non-flammable, non-oil-based, low in toxicity, non-corrosive, offer a wide temperature operating range and high thermal and chemical stability. 3M Fluorinert Electronic Liquids also have low dielectric constants making them ideal for single-phase and two-phase data center immersion cooling applications.

  • Novec engineered fluid

    3M Novec Engineered Fluids

    3M Novec Engineered Fluids are designed to balance performance with favorable environmental and worker safety properties. They are available for a wide variety of applications including heat transfer, cleaning, testing and lubricant deposition. These fluids are non-flammable, non-oil-based, low in toxicity, non-corrosive, have good material compatibility and thermal stability. 3M Novec Engineered Fluids also have a low global warming potential (GWP) and zero ozone depletion potential (ODP), giving data center owners an innovative, trusted and sustainable solution for their single-phase or two-phase data center liquid cooling (direct-to-chip and immersion cooling) applications. 3M currently recommends using hydrofluoroether-based (HFE) 3M Novec Engineered Fluids for data center liquid cooling applications.


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Immersion cooling frequently asked questions

  • Immersion cooling is a method for cooling data center IT hardware by directly immersing the hardware in a non-conductive liquid such as 3M™ Fluorinert™ Electronic Liquids or 3M™ Novec™ Engineered Fluids. Heat generated by the electronic components is directly and efficiently transferred to the fluid. This reduces the need for interface materials, heat sinks, fans, shrouds, sheet metal and other components that are common in traditional cooling methods.
  • Immersion cooling with 3M fluids offers many benefits compared to traditional air cooling, including increased thermal efficiency (i.e., lower PUE), performance and reliability of data centers. Immersion cooling also eliminates the need for complex airflow management. Optimized immersion-cooled data centers can lead to reductions in capital and operating expenses, as well as a reduction in construction time and complexity. The increased compute density from immersion cooling allows for more flexible data center layouts and removes barriers to data center location choices such as areas with high real estate costs or space limitations. Finally, immersion cooling with 3M fluids can help eliminate the tradeoff between water usage, energy efficiency and cost by eliminating the need for chillers with economizers and complex controls used in air cooling. This helps eliminate the use of water needed to cool the data center by, instead, utilizing natural water temperatures in many climates to allow for full capacity cooling without evaporation infrastructure.
  • Immersion cooling involves directly immersing IT hardware in a sealed but readily-accessible enclosure filled with dielectric liquid. Heat generated by the electronic components is directly transferred to the fluid. With direct-to-chip cooling, fluid never comes in direct contact with the electronics. Instead, direct-to-chip cooling uses pipes to pump a liquid coolant to cold plates that sit on electronic components to transfer heat.

    Both immersion cooling and direct-to-chip cooling can be implemented using single-phase and two-phase methods using 3M fluids.
  • There are two common immersion cooling configurations: tank-style and clamshell.

    Tank-style immersion cooling uses dielectric fluid as the heat transfer medium in a sealed but readily-accessible tank. This eliminates the need for hermetic connectors, pressure vessels, seals and clamshells. The servers must be vertically installed inside the tank.

    In the clamshell design, server electronics are sealed within the server chassis. Dielectric fluid is circulated through the entire server enclosure, removing heat from the electronic components. The clamshell design is typically implemented with servers inserted horizontally into a rack.
  • There are several key factors worth considering when deciding between single-phase and two-phase immersion cooling.

    Single-phase immersion cooling systems feature simpler tank designs and easier fluid containment. Material compatibility and fluid hygiene are also less challenging in single-phase compared to two-phase immersion cooling.

    Implementing passive two-phase immersion cooling systems enables greater heat transfer efficiency through the boiling process (through the liquid to vapor phase change) compared to single-phase immersion cooling, allowing for greater power densities with two-phase immersion cooling (up to 250-500 kW/tank). Furthermore, the cooling infrastructure required to support two-phase immersion cooling is typically less complex, as additional adiabatic cooling beyond a dry cooler is not necessary.
  • Both fluorochemicals (or fluorocarbons) and hydrocarbons (e.g., mineral oils, synthetic oils, natural oils) can be used for single-phase immersion cooling. Fluids with a higher boiling point (above the maximum temperature of system) are necessary to ensure the fluid remains in liquid phase.

    Considerations when deciding among various fluorochemicals and hydrocarbons include: heat transfer performance (stability and reliability over time, etc.), ease of IT hardware maintenance, fluid hygiene and replacement needs, material compatibility, electrical properties, flammability or combustibility, environmental impact, safety-related issues and total fluid cost over the lifetime of the tank or data center.
  • Fluorochemical fluids, generally with a lower boiling point, are predominantly used for two-phase immersion cooling. Hydrocarbons typically are not used for two-phase immersion cooling systems, as most hydrocarbons are combustible and/or flammable. Therefore, hydrocarbons are typically only used in single-phase applications.

    Considerations when deciding among various fluorochemicals include: impact on IT performance (consistency, reliability, etc.), ease of IT hardware maintenance, fluid hygiene and replacement needs, material compatibility, electrical properties, flammability or combustibility, environmental impact, safety-related issues and total fluid cost over the lifetime of the tank or data center.
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  • Myth or fact?

    Our experts debunk some common myths involving immersion cooling and 3M fluids.

    View Myths Debunked


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Immersion cooling resources

  • Best practices for two-phase immersion cooling system fabrication (PDF, 242 KB)

    Explore best practices relating to tank design and construction (e.g., materials, lid/sealing), IT hardware preparation, fluid conditioning and removal of contamination, moisture management and vent and pressure control.

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    Video: See immersion cooling in action

    Watch behind-the-scenes video to see how single-phase and two-phase immersion cooling systems work. Plus, learn how immersion cooling using 3M fluids can support higher computing power density and performance than air cooling in less than 10 percent of the space.

  • Infographic: Explore cooling without compromises (PDF, 3.15 MB)

    Traditional data centers use an average of 40 percent of their energy just on cooling, plus billions of gallons of water. Explore a world where that could change, backed by new innovations in heat transfer and thermal management technology.

  • BitFury case study (PDF, 2.19 MB)

    BitFury’s 40+ MW, 1.02 PUE immersion-cooled cryptocurrency data center achieves up to 250 kW per tank or up to 100 kW per m2 using Novec 7100.

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The future is fluid.

Our unique experience in immersion cooling can help you tackle your next data center project.

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