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Immersing electronics

26 April 2016

An innovative new technique to cool high power electronics, efficiently and quietly, supported by the integrity of Stäubli fluid connectors, is the latest product from specialist in electronics cooling technology, Iceotope

Iceotope, based in Sheffield, was started in 2005 by a group of technology enthusiasts who recognised that as the processing power of computers increased, the demands placed on the cooling system would outstrip the capacity of the existing air cooling methods. They saw the opportunity for a new approach to cooling electronics, using liquids rather than air, which provided much greater cooling capacity, was more efficient and importantly silent. The whine and whirr of  fans used to force cooling air around the electronics could now be eliminated, allowing high power computers to be sited in offices and labs where traditionally the level of noise produced would be unacceptable.

Introducing ground breaking technology is never easy and Iceotope in the early days faced challenging funding and acceptance hurdles that would need to be overcome. Now with backing from some of industry’s leading companies (Schneider Electric, Solvay, 3M and Intel) and a general recognition across the sector that new cooling techniques are required, the company is proving the validity of its technology by producing liquid cooled, stand-alone servers, switches and electronics.

Iceotope’s patented technology comprises 3-stage liquid cooling; the first stage is to immerse the electronics in a dielectric coolant within a sealed blade, this primary coolant, in direct contact with all components, conducts heat away from the electronics to a finned plate cold wall secured to the side of each blade. The second stage is gravity fed water based coolant circulating through the cold wall which removes the heat away from the blade. The final stage is high pressure standard supply water pumped through a heat exchanger to remove the heat completely.

Secure & reliable

Connecting these fluid systems safely and securely is where Stӓubli’s Connectors Division gets involved, providing totally leak free connections from the blade to the cold wall circuits. Stäubli CGD05 connectors were selected by Iceotope for the application, following detailed discussions with Stäubli product engineers.
This range of connectors has been specifically designed to meet these demanding requirements; the unique coupling design ensures fast, secure and reliable circuit connection and disconnection.

Coupling design ensures fast, secure and reliable circuit connection and disconnection

Flat faced, clean break connector technology guarantees no spillage and eliminates any risk of air or contaminants entering the circuits on connection or disconnection. The connectors are designed for blind connection, fitted at the rear of each blade and are able to compensate for a large degree of mis-alignment, ensuring that connection to the liquid cooling circuit does not compromise the integrity of the electrical connections; removal and replacement of the liquid cooled blades is as easy as on a traditional air cooled system.

Iceotope’s PetaGen 1C server assembly embodies all their latest technology and provides silent, self-contained high power computing ready to be used in any environment, even the office or lab. Liquids have a much greater cooling capacity than air; this provides the opportunity to increase the processing power on a standard footprint. On a typical air cooled system around 40% of energy is wasted on cooling electronics compared to less than 10% using a PetaGen system.

An early adopter of this innovative system has been Roils Royce at Derby where a PetaGen 1C is located in an office environment and has performed faultlessly.
Data Centres and Universities have also adopted the Iceotope system and now medical and defence sectors are showing distinct interest in Iceotope’s technology and the opportunity to accommodate much higher processing power on a standard footprint and operate silently.

Stäubli Connectors will also be playing its part in ensuring that this ground breaking technology is as easy to connect and disconnect as any traditional air cooled system.

Key Points

  • Iceotope's systems cool electronics using liquids rather than air for greater cooling capacity that is more efficient, as well as being silent
  • Stäubli CGD05 connectors are used to achieve totally leak free connections from the blade to the cold wall circuits
  • The connectors are designed for blind connection, fitted at the rear of each blade and are able to compensate for a large degree of mis-alignment