UII UPDATE 266 | JULY 2024
Intelligence Update

Interest in two-phase cooling warms up

When, in December 2022, chemical giant 3M announced it would stop making per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) by 2025, it marked the beginning of the end for Novec dielectric fluids —and the many other products commonly used in liquid cooling applications. Since then, 3M has accelerated plans to shut down production of these “forever chemicals” in response to mounting legal liabilities associated with environmental and public health risks.

In the grand scheme of things, IT cooling is a trivial issue compared with the criticality of PFAS in other industrial applications: for example, they are essential in the fabrication of semiconductors. But 3M’s decision had major implications for those in the data center sector who had bitten the bullet to make two-phase immersion cooling work. Now, with runaway silicon thermal power, two-phase cooling has garnered substantial interest again, but in a different form: direct-to-chip liquid cooling.

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