Cloud computing, streaming, big data, blockchain, artificial intelligence and social media – society is demanding faster, more immediate data access. This means growing of data centres and computing infrastructure. However, keeping the servers in these centres cool is cost-intensive and uses large amounts of energy.

Full immersion in a thermally conductive, electrically non-conductive (dielectric) coolant is a highly efficient way to keep computer components cool. It can help to cut energy consumption massively and lower carbon dioxide emissions while reducing costs and increasing location flexibility.

How does immersion cooling work?

  • Immersion cooling is a way of cooling IT components, including whole servers, by submerging them in a dielectric (electrically non-conductive) fluid.
  • The coolant, for example, Shell Immersion Cooling Fluid S5 X, circulates by natural convection or is pumped around to remove heat from the components.
  • An added benefit is that this heat can be recovered by water-cooled heat exchangers for reuse in district heating projects.
  • Two immersion-cooling technologies are widely available: Single-phase immersion cooling (diagram below), in which the coolant stays as a liquid; and two-phase immersion cooling, where the coolant boils to form a gas before condensing back to a liquid.

Comparing immersion cooling technologies

Attribute Aircooling (traditional data centres)* Liquid cooling: Single-phase cooling, cold plate (water)^ Liquide cooling: Single-phase cooling, immersion*^ Liquid cooling: Two-phase cooling (high range applications)^
Cooling capacity + ++ +++ ++++
Hardware integration + ++ ++ ++
Hardware reliability + ++ +
Hardware performance + ++ +++ +++
Heat recovery + ++ +++ +++
Initial capital expenditure + ++ – – –
Operating expenditure + ++ ++ ++

* Infrastructure Services Group, reported in “Global immersion cooling market in data centers – Growth, trends, forecast (2019-2024), Mordor Intelligence (2019)

^ Customer feedback and internal evalution.

+ Positive comparison

- Negative comparison

The liquid coolant never changes state (no boiling or freezing, etc.) Mainly for high heat range applications

Compared with air or water cooling, single-phase immersion cooling offers:

Lower total cost of ownership
Requires less equipment, space, energy and maintenance.

Reduction in energy footprint
Eliminates the need for energy-intensive air-conditioning units and reduces carbon energy footprint.

Less carbon dioxide emissions
A lower energy footprint reduces carbon dioxide emissions.

Less floor space
A single-phase cooling system is less complex and eliminates the need for raised floors and aisles between server racks.

Faster CPU performance
A dielectric coolant conducts heat 1,200 times better than air, which enables servers to run faster and cooler.

Less capital and operating expenditure
Smaller physical, energy and carbon footprints make single-phase cooling a more cost-effective option.

Climate and location independence
Can operate effectively in high humidity, ambient temperatures up to 40°C and dusty industrial settings.

Greater reliability
Easy-to-access coolant baths make maintenance tasks quick and simple. Coolant is also reusable.

Shell immersion cooling fluids

Shell Immersion Cooling Fluid S5 X
Shell Immersion Cooling Fluid S5 X is a single-phase, synthetic immersion cooling fluid made from natural gas using Shell’s GTL technology.

Optimised for natural-convection-driven immersion cooling solutions, it can also be used in pumped or forced circulation systems.

Shell Immersion Cooling Fluid S5 X has been developed in collaboration with Asperitas, a clean and high-tech company, to achieve high levels of safety, performance and reliability.

“Shell Immersion Cooling Fluid S5 X has major advantages over conventional fluids we have tested, including excellent thermal stability and flow behaviour, and a high flash point, enabling us to operate our modules at their design temperatures for maximum heat recovery.” Rolf Brink, Asperitas Chief Executive Officer.

To find out more about Asperitas, visit their website.

Asperitas

Safety and purity

  • Meets EU and US pharmaceutical purity requirements
  • Extremely low volatility and safe to handle

Performance

  • Excellent thermodynamic properties and high flash point
  • Low density and non‑evaporating

Protection and reliability

  • Very high oxidation and thermal stabilities
  • Contains virtually no sulphur, nitrogen or aromatics
  • Non‑corrosive

Shell Immersion Cooling Fluid

Shell Immersion Cooling Fluid S3 X provides an innovative cooling solution for energy- and heat-intensive blockchain system operators and has the same safety, performance and reliability benefits as Shell Immersion Cooling Fluid S5 X.

Discover how Shell immersion cooling fluids can help you save energy and money and reduce your carbon footprint.

Benefits by user

Cloud providers and hyperscale data centres
Optimise efficiency and achieve sustainability goals while standardising facilities for a variety of hardware requirements.

Telecommunication centres
Operate edge data centres anywhere and use existing buildings within their power and cooling availability constraints.

Enterprises
Simplify on-premises data centres for high efficiency and decreased dependency on the public cloud.

Research institutes
Facilitate on-campus high-performance computing environments without the need for advanced data centres with their associated energy and cost demands.

Colocation providers
Facilitate hosting high-density and -performance computer users in a simple and scalable manner.

Block chain operators
Immersion cooling is an alternative to conventional air-cooling that offers energy saving to blockchain computing operations.

Strategic alliance with Microsoft

As part of our strategic alliance with Microsoft launched in 2020, we are progressing immersion coolant pilots at their data centres to keep computer components cool which helps to cut energy consumption and reduce carbon dioxide emissions. re: Shell Annual report 2021; Shell Sustainability report 2021.

DOWNLOADS

Shell Immersion Cooling Fluid S5 X
Download our Shell Immersion Cooling Fluid S5 X data sheet.

Shell Immersion Cooling Fluid S3 X
Download our Shell Immersion Cooling Fluid S3 X data sheet.

Integrated Immersion Cooling Solutions – Enabling game-changing energy use reduction at data centres
Shell Immersion Cooling Fluid tackles data center energy use as part of a wider integrated offer to help center operators meet their climate action ambitions.

Four reasons why blockchain operators are moving to immersion cooling
It is only a matter of time before immersion cooling becomes the industry standard for blockchain and data centres across the globe. Download our brochure to learn how you can stay ahead of the curve.

Global innovations from the energy sector 2010–2020 – World Economic Forum report
We are proud to announce that Shell and Asperitas feature in the World Economic Forum’s 2020 report on transformational energy innovations (pages 13 and 14). This showcases selected global energy innovations from the past decade that are judged to be novel, beneficial to society and contributing to accelerating the global energy transition.