Castrol opens immersion cooling development and testing facility • The Register

Castrol – the oil Lubrication Company – plans to build development and test facilities for data center immersion cooling technology at its UK headquarters to support validation programs for its products and customers.

While many will associate Castrol with car engine oil, the company has now switched its thermal management to manufacturing immersion coolants for IT equipment in partnership with Submer, as detailed earlier this year.

The company, a subsidiary of BP, said it plans to build the facility at its global headquarters in Pangbourne, UK, as part of BP’s recent announcement of up to £50 million ($56 million) in the creation Investing in a global battery test center and electric vehicle analysis laboratory in the same location.

A Castrol spokesperson told us that the facility is expected to be operational at the same time as the BP battery test center, which is planned for late 2024.

The purpose of the test facilities is to support Castrol engineers in developing specialized immersion liquid technologies for data centers and IT/communications infrastructures, but also to develop methods to capture and reuse heat from data center operations to further increase operational efficiencies.

“Immersion-cooled data centers could deliver huge performance gains and large reductions in wasted energy in cooling,” said Rebecca Yates, BP’s technology vice president of advanced mobility and industrial products.

Immersion cooling typically requires so-called dielectric liquids which, unlike water, conduct heat but not electricity.

The facility will also support testing and validation programs for customers and partners, the first of which is Submer. According to Castrol, the site will be installing Submer SmartPod and MicroPod tank systems that have been customized for testing new fluids and new server equipment.

Underwater SmartPod

Underwater SmartPod

Elsewhere, French cloud and bit barn provider OVHcloud detailed how it developed its own cooling technology using a mix of water and immersion systems.

The hybrid immersion liquid cooling technique consists of a direct-to-chip liquid cooling system combined with a single-phase passive immersion cooling system, as OVHcloud explains in detail in a blog post.

It channels water through heatsinks attached to CPUs and GPUs in a similar system to that currently used in all OVHcloud servers. This is connected to a pumping station and dry cooler via a proprietary serpentine convection coil to conduct heat away from the data center.

With immersion cooling, the liquid is held in a tank and cools all server components, not just CPUs and GPUs.

Another part of hybrid immersion liquid cooling is a new passive rack design with no pumps or fans, so no power is used for cooling at the rack level, reducing power consumption for data center cooling infrastructure by at least 20 percent compared to existing water cooling, according to OVHcloud. ® Castrol opens immersion cooling development and testing facility • The Register

Rick Schindler

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