US government funds cooling solutions for datacenters

server room
Sheila Zabeu -

May 31, 2023

The United States Department of Energy (DOE) has announced funding for 15 projects worth US$40 million to stimulate the development of cooling solutions for datacenters. These environments account for about 2% of total electricity consumption in the country, and cooling can represent up to 40% of energy consumption in datacenters.

“Severe weather events are threatening the operation of data centers, essential to the computing and networking infrastructures that permeate our daily lives. DOE is funding projects that will ensure the operational continuity of these facilities and reduce associated carbon emissions to combat climate change and build a clean energy future,” said Jennifer M. Granholm, U.S. Secretary of Energy.

The projects selected by the DOE, concentrated in laboratories, universities and companies, seek to reduce the energy needed to cool the data centers. The aim is to reduce the operational carbon footprint associated with the energy supply and cooling of these infrastructures and help meet the goal of zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The following projects were selected as part of the Cooling Operations Optimized for Leaps in Energy, Reliability, and Carbon Hyperefficiency for Information Processing Systems (COOLERCHIPS) program and supported by DOE’s Advanced Energy Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E):

  • Flexnode will develop a prefabricated, modular datacenter that will use four main components and technological advances to cool more efficiently ($3.5 million);

  • HP will develop a liquid cooling solution that reduces the need for thermal interface material, thus lowering resistance ($3.25 million);

  • HRL Laboratories will develop a new thermal management system for datacenters with low thermal resistance and improved energy efficiency to reduce power consumption by the next generation of servers ($2 million);

  • Intel Federal will look to adapt a two-stage immersion cooling system to distribute heat more effectively ($1.7 million);

  • JETCOOL Technologies will develop a microconvective cooling technology that combines and optimizes two distinct cooling approaches to deliver higher levels of energy efficiency ($1.2 million);

  • The National Renewable Energy Laboratory will develop test protocols to evaluate cooling technologies developed by COOLERCHIPS’ designs under real operating conditions. The technical evaluation team will leverage the work of other teams to develop a digital twin, evaluate key parameters and help test a wide range of technologies in terms of thermal targets, reliability, and cost ($1.4 million);

  • Nvidia will develop a modular data centre with an innovative multi-faceted cooling system. The design cools the chips with a two-phase cold plate, which achieves a thermal resistance of about 0.0025°C/W (US$5 million);

  • Purdue University will develop an innovative two-phase direct on-chip impact jet cooling solution to improve overall thermal performance and reduce pumping power consumption ($1.8 million);

  • Raytheon Technologies Research Center will develop a system to eliminate heat from sources in servers using oscillating ribbon tubes. This system could help reduce the energy consumption of future datacenters (US$2.5 million).

  • The University of California will develop a suite of solutions for thermal management and use it in a modular datacenter for edge computing. Design innovations include heat extraction and dissipation using high-efficiency, low-cost heat exchanger systems ($3.5 million).

  • The University of Florida will develop a thermal management solution to cool future CPUs and GPUs with unprecedented heat flux and power consumption levels in server racks. ($3 million).

  • The University of Illinois will develop a cooling paradigm capable of using low power and maximum cooling power for future servers ($2.5 million).

  • The University of Maryland will develop decision support software for next generation datacenter projects that links existing modelling tools to a simulation framework ($3.5 million).

  • The University of Missouri will develop an expandable cooling solution with numerous advantages over existing phase change processes ($1.6 million);

  • The University of Texas will develop a hybrid cooling technology to meet the growing demand for advanced thermal management solutions for high-power datacenters ($2.8 million).

Find out more about the selected projects here.

The datacenter cooling market is expected to reach $23.9 billion by 2030, with a compound annual growth rate of 11.6% between 2023 and 2030, according to Cognitive Market Research.