BT is testing liquid cooling techniques including network switches provided by Iceotope and Juniper, and new immersion players.

The tests include a version of the widely-used Juniper QFX Series network switches adapted to use Iceotope's "precision cooling," which floods the electronics with dielectric coolant to remove heat. Other cooling systems being trialed include new entrants to the immersion cooling field.

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An Immersion4 demonstration at BT's Sustainability Festival – BT

Iceotope and Juniper have shown a demonstration version of the liquid-cooled switches, using an HP x86 server at BT’s Sustainability Festival, which illustrated that less energy was needed to keep the switches cool.

The telco is also testing other cooling techniques alongside Iceotope's precision-cooled server technology.

New techniques and providers include full immersion cooling from Switzerland-based Immersion4, a cold-plate cooling system from Nexalus, and a sprayed partial immersion system from Airsys.

BT says it expects to deploy a range of cooling systems depending on the context. The trials aim to establish which solutions are optimal for each scenario, and how much energy each can save.

Each system will normally save 40 to 50 percent of the power used in cooling, compared with an air-cooled system. The systems also allow higher power density, saving on space, and reducing the amount of material used.

Instead of dissipating heat into the air, liquid cooling systems can provide it to be used to heat buildings.

And since they don't channel air through the IT kit, liquid-cooled systems are less vulnerable to dust, dirt, and humidity.

“As the UK’s largest provider of fixed-line broadband and mobile services in the UK, it isn’t a surprise that over 90 percent of our overall energy consumption – and nearly 95 percent of our electricity - comes from our networks," said Maria Cuevas, networks research director, BT Group. 

"In a world of advancing technology and growing data demands, it’s critical that we continue to innovate for energy efficiency solutions. Liquid cooling for network and IT infrastructure is one part of a much bigger jigsaw but is an area we’re very excited to explore with our technology."

Previously Iceotope has mostly concentrated on data center and Edge servers, but it liquid-cooled a large Mellanox switch back in 2015, and teamed with Intel to show a liquid-cooled server unit aimed at telcos earlier this year.