Immersion cooling for data centres

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Data is powering dramatic changes around the world, in both business and quality of life. But as all that data is stored and processed in data centres, it comes at a cost in energy consumption, water use, real estate footprint and more. Today, 3M is a leader in the liquid cooling revolution for data centres. Our line of non-conductive and safe 3M fluids used in immersion cooling are ideal for data centres single-phase and two-phase cooling processes.

A row of vertical data center server racks cooled by two-phase immersion cooling
Data driven. Advancing a sustainable future.

The future of efficient, sustainable data centres starts here. Watch the mini-documentary on the world’s growing demand for data, data centres’ growing demand for energy, water and real estate, and how the industry is working together to address these challenges.


What is immersion cooling?

Data centre immersion cooling involves directly immersing IT hardware in a non-conductive liquid such as 3M™ Fluorinert™ Electronic Liquids or 3M™ Novec™ Engineered Fluids. Heat generated by the electronic components is directly and efficiently transferred to the fluid, reducing the need for active cooling components, such as interface materials, heat sinks and fans that are common in air cooling. Liquid immersion cooling with 3M fluids can provide tremendous energy savings while increasing server density and shrinking data centre size.

  • Engineer removing a server from a tightly packed immersion cooling unit
    Video: See immersion cooling in action

    Watch the behind-the-scenes video to see how single-phase and two-phase immersion cooling systems work. Plus, learn how immersion cooling using 3M fluids can support higher computing power density and performance than air cooling in less than 10% the space.

  • Traditional data centres use an average of 40% of their energy just on cooling, plus billions of gallons of water. Explore a world where that could change, backed by new innovations in heat transfer and thermal management technology. (PDF, 3.15 MB)

  • New data centre immersion cooling technology incorporating 3M™ Novec™ Engineered Fluids, pioneered by Allied Control and The BitFury Group for Bitcoin mining, offers dramatic improvements in energy efficiency and sustainability – including up to 97% energy savings. (PDF, 2.15 MB)

A smart way to keep temperatures — and costs — down

Liquid immersion cooling using 3M™ Fluorinert™ Electronic Liquids or 3M™ Novec™ Engineered Fluids can contribute to a lower cost of ownership, by reducing both capital and operating expenses. Direct liquid cooling helps improve efficiency and reduce costs throughout the life of your data centre -- from design and construction, to maintenance and operations, and to repair and replacement of hardware.

  • Reduce energy costs icon with blue background
    Reduce electricity costs up to 97%

    The clearest advantage will be evident in your electric bill. The most efficient immersion cooling methods can help improve data centre energy efficiency (often the largest electricity cost for a data centre) by up to 97%.

  • Footprint icon with blue background for space saving
    Save space with 10X less room required

    The improved cooling capacity means you can position electronics closer together — so you can fit 10 times the compute density in a given space. This opens the possibilities of where you can put a data centre.

  • Target with bullseye icon for optimized performance
    Optimize for greater performance

    With greater thermal efficiency, you can increase processing power and reduce latency beyond the limits of air cooling.

  • Shield icon for mitigating equipment breakdown
    Mitigate equipment breakdown

    Liquid immersion cooling eliminates airborne contaminants and simplifies thermal design to reduce moving parts. This means you can run your electronics at full capacity with less wear and tear.

  • People icon for safe worker exposure
    Safe for worker exposure

    Building a data centre that uses immersion cooling doesn’t compromise safety for your operator. 3M designs all 3M™ Fluorinert™ Electronic Liquids and 3M™ Novec™ Engineered Fluids to feature low toxicity, non-flammability and an overall wide margin of safety for workers.

  • Flowing arrow icons for data center deisn flexibility
    Data centre design flexibility

    Build your data centre where you want it to be. Immersion cooling using 3M fluids enables greater data centre design flexibility – allowing you to choose the ideal location for your data centre without environmental constraints such as hot and humid climates, pollution concerns or land and space constraints.

3M™ Novec™ Engineered Fluids: A sustainable choice for the environment

  • Large white wind turbines in a green field with a blue sky and white fluffy clouds.

    Saving energy is not only good for the bottom line — it’s good for the earth. Less power used means less need to generate electricity, which in turn means less fuel used and fewer emissions. Smaller data centres save construction materials and maintenance. If your goal is a greener bitcoin or cryptocurrency operation, 3M™ Novec™ Engineered Fluids make these outcomes possible and at the same time feature:

    • Favorable environmental profile
    • Low global warming potential (GWP)
    • Zero ozone depletion potential (ODP

Questions and answers to help you build an efficient data centre

Server manufacturers, system integrators and data centre engineers all face similar challenges: Design and assemble a data center that answers core customer needs in terms of cost, performance and reliability. Immersion cooling using 3M fluids can help you answer those, and other practical needs, without compromise.

  • How does immersion cooling work?

    Immersion cooling involves putting electronics directly in a non-conductive fluid, allowing heat to be transferred directly from components into the heat transfer fluid. In traditional cooling systems, heat must transfer through several levels of thermal interface materials, air, heat exchangers and working fluids. Immersion cooling simplifies thermal design and increases heat transfer efficiency.

  • What are the benefits of 3M fluids vs. mineral oil?

    Many factors should be evaluated when selecting a working fluid. 3M™ Fluorinert Electronic Liquids and 3M™ Novec™ Engineered Fluids have several significant advantages versus other classes of dielectric fluids, including mineral oil. In addition to being non-flammable and non-combustible, 3M fluids have the boiling points and thermal stability needed for two-phase immersion cooling operations. Servicing and maintenance are made easy, since the electronics come out of 3M fluids clean and dry.

  • Is fluid loss a problem in 3M fluid based immersion cooling systems?

    Immersion cooling systems are typically designed to be serviceable and hot-swappable, but are also designed with fluid containment in mind. By following 3M best practices and purchasing from a 3M authorised immersion cooling OEM, fluid losses can be held to inconsequential amounts.

  • How can I buy a 3M fluid based immersion cooling system?

    Vendors are already offering proprietary server and mechanical systems based upon this technology, with others in development.

Three ways to achieve one cool data centre

  • Two-phase immersion cooling

    Two-phase passive immersion cooling exponentially increases heat transfer efficiency from boiling and condensation of Novec engineered fluids. This simple approach features almost no moving parts.

    • Electronic components are submerged in a non-conductive liquid bath in an accessible, sealed enclosure
    • The generated heat boils fluid into a gaseous state and it rises to the top of the enclosure
    • The gas condenses on the lid or a condensation coil and rains back into the bath to repeat the cycle
    • Heat transfer efficiencies can exceed boiling water in a material that can safely come in direct contact with electronics
  • Single-phase immersion cooling

    In single-phase immersion cooling the fluid has a higher boiling point and remains in its liquid phase throughout the process.

    • Electronic components are submerged in a non-conductive liquid bath in an accessible, sealed enclosure
    • The heat from the chip is transferred to the fluid
    • Pumps are often used to flow the heated fluid to a heat exchanger, where it is cooled and cycled back into the bath
    • 3M™ Fluorinert™ Electronic Liquids can also be used in this application
  • Indirect cooling: An immersion alternative

    Thermal management challenges and techniques come in a variety of forms, so the unique properties of our fluids can be applied in a variety of ways to solve those challenges. One such challenge is the complexity of applying direct-to-chip (D2C) water cooling, due to the risk of leaks and difficulty cooling a series of processors in the same circuit. 3M Novec Engineered Fluids are a compelling working fluid option in these applications.


    • Heat transfer efficiency comparable to or better than water, in two-phase operation
    • Non-conductive working fluid, eliminating risk of damage from leaks
    • All processors in a circuit maintained at the same temperature regardless of the number of nodes

Learn more about liquid immersion cooling and 3M data centre solutions

Contact us with questions about immersion cooling and 3M fluids

Let 3M put our decades of experience in immersion cooling and data centres to work for you. Contact us with questions or requests that can help you realize your vision for your next data center project. We can help with:

  • Application advice and best practices
  • Technical data and test results
  • Case studies and other materials
  • Assistance choosing the right 3M™ Fluorinert™ Electronic Liquids or 3M™ Novec™ Engineered Fluids
  • Ordering
  • Information on immersion cooling equipment and service providers