BT Trials Innovative Liquid Cooling Technologies to Boost Energy Efficiency and Sustainability

BT Group, a leading telecommunications company, has unveiled its ambitious commitment to achieve net-zero status by the end of March 2031 and has taken a significant step towards this goal by announcing trials of cutting-edge “liquid cooling” technologies. These innovations have the potential to significantly enhance energy consumption and efficiency in its networks and IT infrastructure.
BT broadbandIn a pioneering move, BT Group is set to trial “precision liquid cooled” network switches in collaboration with Iceotope and Juniper Network QFX Series switches. These switches are commonly used in existing network cloud architectures. To showcase the potential benefits of this technology, a replica setup using an HP x86 server was demonstrated at BT’s Sustainability Festival. The demonstration highlighted how the power required to cool a network switch, typically found in data centers, could be drastically reduced.

All electronic and electrical systems generate heat during operation, which must be dissipated to maintain their functionality. Like many large data centers, BT Group currently employs air-based cooling systems for its network and IT equipment. As network demands increase and next-generation hardware generates more heat, the power needed for cooling escalates, leading to higher energy consumption and operational costs.

In response, BT Group is exploring various alternative cooling techniques. In addition to the trial with Iceotope and Juniper, the company plans to test several liquid cooling systems, all of which were showcased at BT Group’s Sustainability Festival.

# Precision Liquid Cooled networking servers and data center equipment, in partnership with Iceotope and Juniper

# Full immersion of networking servers in an immersion tank, in collaboration with Immersion

# Liquid-cooled cold plates for networking equipment in a cooling enclosure, developed with Nexalus

# Cooling through sprayed-on partial immersion of data center equipment, in partnership with Airsys

BT Group anticipates that different cooling solutions may be deployed depending on specific location and operational requirements. The trials aim to determine the optimal solutions for each scenario and quantify potential energy savings.

These liquid cooling techniques offer several advantages, including:

# 40-50 percent reduction in power needed to cool systems compared to air cooling

# Higher equipment density, leading to savings on real estate footprint and reduced power usage

# Reduced material usage, which lowers the carbon footprint

# Reuse of exhausted heat for heating other parts of a building, rather than dissipating it into the air

# Deployment in environmentally challenging environments, such as areas with contaminants like dust and humidity

Maria Cuevas, Networks Research Director at BT Group, emphasized the significance of these efforts, stating, “As the UK’s largest provider of fixed-line broadband and mobile services, it’s critical that we continue to innovate for energy efficiency solutions.”

BT Group’s commitment to sustainability through innovative cooling technologies marks a significant step towards achieving its ambitious net-zero target by 2031 and reducing its environmental impact in the telecommunications sector.