Liquid Cooling in Data Centers: Cooling the Way to a Sustainable Future

23 Oct 2023

To address these issues, liquid cooling systems, which utilize water or other liquids to transfer heat away from the system, have been proposed as an efficient and cost-effective alternative to traditional air-cooled systems.

As per the BIS Research report, the global data center liquid cooling market was valued at $2.79 Billion in 2021, expected to grow with a CAGR of 27.67% and reach $11.84 Billion by 2027.

Liquid cooling helps reduce the space requirements of the data center, allowing for more efficient use of existing space. 

Data Center Liquid Cooling vs. Conventional Air Cooling

In contrast to traditional air-cooling systems that use fans and air ducts to circulate cool air around the data center, liquid cooling systems use water or specialized coolants to dissipate heat from data center equipment. 

Liquid cooling systems are more efficient than air-cooled systems because they use the latent heat of vaporization of the liquid, which can dissipate more heat effectively than air-cooled systems, resulting in more efficient system operation.  

Additionally, liquid cooling systems can help reduce energy losses because they use the liquid's thermal conductivity. This means they can transfer more heat from one component to another, resulting in less energy being lost to the environment. By using liquid cooling systems that utilize water or environmentally friendly coolants, the data center can reduce its carbon footprint while reducing the energy needed to cool the system. 

Furthermore, using liquid cooling systems can help reduce the amount of waste that a data center generates, as the systems are more efficient and require less maintenance. 

The data center liquid cooling market is expected to grow in the future owing to the increasing demand for efficient and sustainable cooling solutions in data centers and other key trends in the market. 

Types of Liquid Cooling Techniques

Besides the energy savings linked to liquid cooling, environmentally friendly data centers also enjoy reduced noise levels attributed to using liquid cooling systems.  

Diverse methods and technologies have been developed to meet the cooling needs of an increasingly heat-intensive world.  

Indirect Cooling

Indirect liquid cooling comprises techniques that involve no direct contact between the coolants and computing servers or components. The heat is dissipated through conduction using metals such as copper and aluminum. 

Indirect liquid cooling can be implemented using a closed-looped setup in which the heat transfer is moved closer to the racks and rows.  

This system uses a sealed tubing loop to circulate a coolant, such as water, through a radiator to dissipate heat. The coolant is pumped through the tubing and over the components to be cooled and then back to the radiator.  

Indirect liquid cooling, integrated with a closed-looped setup, helps maintain a continuous fluid flow throughout the circuit, effectively removing heat. 

In-Row Based: In this type of orientation, the heat sink and air-conditioning units are placed close to the rows of a rack or a cabinet. 

In-Rack Based: The in-rack design ensures focused cooling at the rack level. The entire server cabinet or rack is cooled with a single AC unit or heat sink. 

Direct-to-Chip Liquid Cooling System

In this liquid cooling system, the cooling fluid boils into a gaseous state and is converted to a liquid form using a condenser coil.  

This technique involves attaching a liquid-cooled heat sink directly to the surface of a chip, such as a CPU or GPU. The heat sink's micro-channels allow the coolant to come into direct contact with the chip, effectively removing heat. 

Direct-to-chip liquid cooling can provide better thermal performance and allow for higher-performance processors or increased density in data centers. 

Immersion Cooling

Immersion cooling is a data center liquid cooling technology in which computing components are submerged in a liquid coolant. The liquid, typically a dielectric fluid, is chosen for its high thermal conductivity and ability to remove heat from the submerged components. 

The liquid also acts as insulation, protecting the components from electrical shorts. Immersion cooling allows for higher cooling efficiency and can enable higher performance and denser data center operations. 

It also allows for cooling high-power devices such as Bitcoin mining rigs. However, it requires specialized hardware, and the liquid used must be carefully selected to ensure that it is non-conductive, non-corrosive, and has a high boiling point. 

Paving the Way for Green Data Centers

To manage the crisis of global warming and heightened carbon emissions from different industries such as IT and telecom, it has become necessary to convert conventional data centers to green data centers.

To achieve sustainable goals, the following steps are necessary-: 

Cloud Migration

Cloud migration can be defined as the process of moving and transferring data, applications, or other business elements from an organization's on-premises infrastructure to a cloud computing environment. 

The cloud environment can be a public cloud, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, or a private cloud, a cloud infrastructure operated solely for a single organization.   

Integration of Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM)

DCIM stands for data center infrastructure management. It is a set of software tools and processes used to monitor, manage, and optimize the various components of a data center's infrastructure, including power, cooling, and network systems. 

DCIM solutions typically provide a holistic view of the data center's environment, allowing IT and facilities teams to monitor and manage the various components of the data center infrastructure in real-time. 

This includes monitoring power usage, temperature, humidity, and other environmental factors and managing cooling systems and power distribution.  

Adoption of Data Optimization Technologies

Data optimization technologies are a set of software and hardware solutions used to improve the performance, efficiency, and scalability of data storage and processing. 

These technologies include data compression, deduplication, tiering, caching, replication, compression and encryption, archiving, and indexing and hashing. 

Data compression reduces the storage space required for data by removing redundant or unnecessary information. 


As energy demands for data centers continue to rise, the need for more efficient cooling solutions has become paramount. Data center liquid cooling systems are integral to ensuring a sustainable future for data centers.  

Liquid cooling systems have the potential to revolutionize the way data centers are cooled, leading to more energy-efficient, "green" data centers. 

By providing more efficient cooling, reduced noise levels, improved safety, and a decreased environmental impact, liquid cooling systems are paving the way for a more promising future for data centers.