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Leak-Free Cooling: Boyd’s Approach to Prevent Liquid Cooling Loop Leaks

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Last updated Jul 3, 2024 | Published on Jul 3, 2024

Beyond Performance: Addressing Reliability Concerns in Liquid Cooling

In today's advanced hyperscale data center landscape, liquid cooling systems are essential for next-generation performance. These systems push equipment density with liquid cooling loops attached to high-value electronics to directly cool heat loads. However, coolant leakage from corrosion or fluid interconnect issues reduces efficiency, damages components, and increases maintenance costs. Boyd addresses potential leaks proactively with precise and robust manufacturing and rigorous testing perfected over four decades of experience to ensure high quality, reliable, leak-free liquid cooling solutions..

The Boyd Difference

Boyd's decades of experience designing liquid systems and liquid components provide us with the experience to prevent leaks in the field. Our designs, processes, and manufacturing are all geared to address each aspect of potential leakage. Keep reading to learn more about different types of leaks and how Boyd prevents them.

Understanding the Roots of Coolant Leakage in Liquid Cooling Systems

In liquid cooling systems, coolant leakage poses a significant risk and can compromise performance and reliability. Understanding why coolant leaks is crucial for effective prevention. Corrosion and fluid interconnect issues are the primary factors that cause coolant leakage.

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Fluid Interconnect Issues:

Coolant flows through intricate networks in a liquid system. We call this fluid interconnect and it is vital for efficient thermal management in dense electronic environments. Boyd's liquid cooling system fittings and tubing, including swivel and quick-disconnect (QD) types, undergo rigorous accelerated testing to ensure robust fluid joints. Swivel fittings provide flexibility at interfaces while QD fittings enable dripless disconnects and "hot swappable" operation to enhance installation ease and maintenance continuity.

With increasing electronic density, cooling loop designs are expanding rapidly to accommodate a larger mass of hardware. This heightens the risk of fluid interconnect issues. Reducing fluid interconnect risk starts with robust tubing and fitting designs that undergo rigorous testing. Proper packaging solutions and handling procedures are also critical to proactively prevent fluid interconnect leaks. These heavy cooling assemblies require mechanical support in shipping, handling, and storage to mitigate stress on fluid joints and ensure fast, repeatable installation.

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Ensuring Leak-Free Reliability in Liquid Cooling System Fluid Interconnect Joints, Fittings, and Seals

Our liquid cooling systems feature diverse joint technologies to meet varying customer needs while preventing leaks. We solder or braze joints to create strong, durable metal components and assemblies, perfected over decades of manufacturing experience. For barb fittings, we enhance security by pairing them with tube clamps, ensuring a tight and leak-free connection. To protect O-ring seals, we incorporate filters during testing and within our Coolant Distribution Units (CDUs) to remove larger particles that could damage the seals’ integrity. Boyd meticulously manufactures, handles, tests, and packages liquid cooling loop joints, fittings, and seals to ensure secure fluid interconnections before they reach the customer. This rigorous process maintains joint integrity and minimizes leak risks.

Corrosion:

Corrosion poses a significant risk to liquid cooling systems. Corrosion in liquid cooling systems often happens inside the system and is difficult to see but a primary cause of coolant leaks. Galvanic and erosion corrosion are the two primary concerns.

Galvanic corrosion occurs when dissimilar metals come into contact in the presence of an electrolyte, like the coolant in liquid cooling systems. Salts and contaminants that promote ionization accelerate this process. Mitigating galvanic corrosion requires thoroughly clean surfaces and corrosion inhibitor use. These inhibitors passivate metal surfaces, protecting them from corrosion. Regularly replenishing inhibitors is essential as they gradually deplete over time.

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Leak Free Cooling Erosion Corrosion 566x300 1

Erosion corrosion occurs when increased coolant velocity erodes metal surfaces, often caused by turbulent flow or sharp turns in the coolant path. This erosion weakens materials, heightening the risk of leaks and eventual system failure. Effective design solutions minimize flow velocity changes and ensure smooth coolant pathways to prevent erosion corrosion.

Boyd addresses these corrosion risks by implementing advanced seals, corrosion-resistant materials, precise manufacturing techniques, and rigorous testing in liquid cooling systems. These proactive measures not only mitigate fluid interconnect issues but also ensure reliable and efficient operation. They safeguard the integrity of high-value electronics, reduce downtime, and lower maintenance costs over the system's lifespan.

Enhancing System Reliability: Detecting Coolant Leaks in Liquid Cooling Systems

Detecting coolant leaks in liquid cooling systems is crucial to protect electronic components and maintain system reliability with swift responsiveness. This process utilizes a combination of leak sensors and leak sensing wires. These sensors detect saturation and promptly indicate the presence of a leak, with some systems capable of precisely locating it. Most Cooling Distribution Units (CDUs) include a leak sensor with supporting leak sense wires running from the cold plate to the manifold and CDU. For hot-swappable cold plates or cooling loops without CDU connections, an additional onboard leak sensor is necessary. CDU pressure variations trigger a leak alarm if the system’s pressure has been correlated and the pressure transducer is sufficiently sensitive.

Boyd proactively leverages leak sensors within liquid loops and CDUs to help end customers quickly identify and isolate leaks. Fast detection mitigates impact and minimizes downtime and repair costs.
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Optimizing Leak Containment: Beyond System Shutdown

When a coolant leak is detected, the system initiates a shutdown to protect hardware. The CDU pump stops operating, but residual system pressure may still cause some coolant to leak. Adding a shut-off valve to the liquid sub-system effectively contains the leak and prevents it from affecting other parts of the system. Although leak sensors and shut-off valves do not directly enhance product reliability, they provide crucial immediate response to leaks to prevent catastrophic damage in advanced systems. Furthermore, integrating a Proportional Control Valve into the manifold improves leak containment capabilities.

Optimizing Performance, Eliminating Leaks: The Boyd Advantage in Liquid Cooling

Boyd pioneers’ innovation through the design of leak-free solutions, advanced sealing techniques, and corrosion-resistant materials. Our engineering and material science expertise enables us to develop robust solutions that ensure the integrity and reliability of liquid cooling systems. Boyd tackles challenges such as fluid interconnect issues and corrosion risks through rigorous testing and precision manufacturing capabilities. Schedule a consultation with our experts to explore our comprehensive range of leak-free solutions tailored to meet your specific project needs and optimize system performance.

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