Under New CEO, Ebullient Seeks to Put Its Cooling Tech into Vehicles

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tubes to copper plates mounted directly on computer processors. The fluid undergoes a “phase change” by partially boiling into a vapor, which allows more heat to be captured, Trettin says. (The word ebullient means “boiling.”) The heat then continues traveling through tubes until it is released into the surrounding air—either inside or outside of the data center, he says.

The system uses 3M Novec fluid to cool computer components. The 3M-made liquid would not harm any of the equipment in a data center in the event of a leak, which is not the case with water, Trettin says.

Many of the data centers operating today are cooled by large air conditioning units. Ebullient’s system—which comprises a box-shaped fluid distribution unit that can be placed at the bottom of a server rack, tubing, and other equipment—still takes up space. However, it’s generally less space than is needed for an air cooling system, Shedd told Xconomy last year. Part of Ebullient’s sales pitch is that switching to liquid cooling allows data center managers to put more servers in, save energy, and lower their electricity costs.

Several other businesses sell liquid-based cooling products for server rooms, including Calgary, Canada-based CoolIT Systems and Asetek, based in Denmark. Both companies’ systems are water-based, which Trettin says increases the risk of components being damaged or someone getting electrocuted if fluid leaks out. Other approaches include immersing equipment in a mineral oil blend, as Austin, TX-based Green Revolution Cooling does.

Boyarski says that to date, Ebullient has raised a total of $2.7 million in outside equity funding. Trettin says the company is not actively pursuing additional financing, and its plan for now is to grow through revenue and retained earnings. However, “that’s not to say we won’t entertain [the possibility of raising another round] if a big investor came to us,” Trettin says.

According to Boyarski, Ebullient has been granted nine patents and has submitted another 26 applications to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Ebullient’s intellectual property represents a barrier to entry for would-be competitors seeking to develop similar “direct-to-chip” liquid cooling technologies that don’t use water, Trettin says.

Shedd says part of the challenge in ramping up sales for Ebullient and other liquid cooling system vendors is getting organizations to consider an alternative to air.

“In the end, our competitor is just inertia,” he says. “People have been using air [to cool components] since the invention of the computer. [Our goal is] getting people to think differently.”

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Jeff Buchanan is the editor of Xconomy Seattle. Email: jbuchanan@xconomy.com Follow @_jeffbuchanan

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