“Smart innovations will bring us very close to reaching energy neutrality” – Interview Carlo Brouwer

Stulz is a famous supplier and manufacturer of cooling systems for – among others – data centers. The continuous aim for optimized use of cooling in data centers is for Stulz an important driver to innovate continuously. In doing so, the company partners with CoolIT, a US supplier of immersion cooling systems for servers. Carlo Brouwer, MD of Stulz Netherlands, talks about the vision of Stulz on innovation and energy neutrality. Furthermore, he shares his growth expectations of the data center market in the upcoming years.

“There is demand for an optimal use of cooling in the data center market. Over the last decade, we have progressed significantly in this area. Per energy unit, we can cool much more efficiently than 10 years ago.This line of development will most likely continue in the upcoming years.That may seem like an open door, but it is an evergoing challenge to realize new optimization methods in the cooling process.This is also the reason why we have joined forces with CoolIT. After all, by using immersion cooling on CPUs, it is no longer needed to cool entire floors.

For now, immersion cooling can’t be applied to OEM servers and racks. However, Brouwer expects this to change in the future:“HP recently started a project in the USA in which a data center is fully designed on immersion cooling.We are curious on what the results will be and we expect more projects are on the way.”

Immersion cooling is just one example of new technologies within data centers. Brouwer explains that many cooling solutions are custom made. Cooling systems in modern data centers have such a high level of efficiency these days that progress can only be realized with very specific innovations.This is one of Stulz’ specialties:“We are regularly speaking to bigger colocation providers and engineer agencies to research optimization opportunities. Custom made solutions or – as we call them – specials, scare them away sometimes as they have the reputation to be expensive. However, especially for data centers with a significant size and a higher order quantity, the product will in the end not result in a very high cost price,” says Brouwer.

Innovations in connectivity and delivery often influence cooling solutions. For example, Brouwer thinks that the emergence of the Internet of Things has resulted in a change in demand:“Edge computing and micro data centers will play a key role. Especially smaller data centers will require smarter and smaller cooling installations.As data centers generally have a stable power demand (i.e. no peaks and troughs) this will overall not affect efficiency or pricing.”

Brouwer doesn’t expect data centers to reach energy neutrality. “However, we will keep investing in getting as close as possible to reach that goal. I often make a comparison with cars: in some decades we will have reached a much higher capacity with the same engines. Smart innovations will bring us very close to reaching energy neutrality.”

The interview with Carlo Brouwer is part of the Innovation Day Report 2017. You can download the full report for free.

Carlo Brouwer