If you have a project that sounds like it could benefit from immersion cooling, let us shed some light on the whole process for you.
If you have absolutely no say in system design and you have to work with a market ready product, there are many great ways to benefit from high density immersion cooling. In fact, that's often the easiest way to get started. Depending on the exact specifications, there are various strategies to get your off-the-shelf product immersion cooling ready.
If you do have a say in system and PCB design, you will definitely benefit most. But make no mistake, you don't have to go all immersion cooling or nothing. In fact, with Immersion-1, we have designed our boards so they work in our immersion cooling enclosures or with traditional heatsinks and fans. It's always good to have more options.
To get the most bang for your buck, you don't want to be wasting any real estate in your enclosures. But as with old fashioned server cabinets and racks, there are also practical considerations to take into account. Technicians need easy access, and as with air cooled servers, there are specific physical properties that come into play when you build an immersion cooled system. All these aspects have to be carefully weighed against each other, depending on the type of application.
Designing for immersion cooling requires a new set of skills, but it will significantly reduce the resources, that you would have otherwise spent on getting the heat out of the box.
Not all applications are equal, they all come with their own set of requirements and critical details. If a system is designed well, immersion cooling can be much more than higher efficiency and density alone. When manufacturers publish spec sheets with device limits and operation requirements, they base their ratings on experiments conducted and modelling of breakdown mechanisms - in a typical environment where these devices would normally be used. Replacing the complete heat transfer process changes everything. In other words, with immersion cooling you can go where you otherwise couldn't. No matter from which angle you look at it.
An almost more important aspect of fluid selection is the end-use of the product. Military spec hardware can get away with very little cooling and run perfectly fine in a tiny pressurized container on extremely high temperatures. The military can also afford to use the finest parts and dedicate a couple of guys to babysit their little boxes. But this is not necessarily what you would use in a university computer room or a companies data center. If there is hardware that you need to access frequently, memory or debug ports for instance, it becomes even more important to build the system using the right ingredients.
And lastly, fluids and parts used have different physical and regulatory properties, as well as different price tags.
Designing an air cooled data center facility or computer/server room is easy. All it takes is (a lot of) money and a call to your favorite infrastructure vendor. The good news is that you won't need most of the heavy machinery you'd normally have to order. The bad news is that you cannot just call your favorite vendor and ask them for the minimum needed for an immersion cooling application. It's not that they don't have what you need, more that immersion cooling isn't something on their agenda and based on the cost saving, definitely not part of their business model.
Immersion cooling also allows you to use natural resources for cooling. For instance, our very own Immersion-1 computational cluster requires 3 fans running on low speed to dissipate 70kW of heat into the environment of Hong Kong. Would we have built this cluster in France, next to a small creek, we would get away by literally running a garden hose up and down a short stretch of the stream. Even during the "hot" summer months.
For a free immersion cooling project evaluation, feel free to use our immersion cooling evaluation form. You'll be surprised how beneficial immersion cooling can be, even on a smaller scale.