A British company has become the first in the world to market a data centre cooling system based on the use of liquid Carbon Dioxide (CO2).

The groundbreaking new Advanced IT Cooling Systems (AITCS), from cooling specialist Trox, uses CO2 held in high-pressure flexible or solid stainless-steel pipes to directly absorb the heat emitted from data equipment cabinets.

Unlike conventional systems, which rely on fan- or water-based cooling, the Trox design works more like an large-scale heatsink, drawing heat away from equipment at a high rate of efficiency. The company has characterised CO2 as seven times more efficient at cooling over an identical volume of water.

Co-developed with refrigerant partner Star Cooling, the "CO2OLrac system"was already installed at London’s Imperial College, and at a bank in the financial district of London, Guy Hutchins of Trox confirmed. The company has been publicising the system informally, but had held back from a full-scale launch until it had secured patents on the AITCS design.

The current cooling capacity was 30kW per cabinet, but this could increase to 40kW and beyond in the near future, Hutchins said. He believed that cooling using CO2 would become mainstream as the increased capacity of the system started to tell over rivals.

“We see the future of data centre design being based on CO2 cooling,” he said.

CO2 was also electrically benign - sometimes a worry with water-based systems - and was considered to be an environmentally-friendly refrigerant. It suited new data centres, but could also be retro-fitted on some sites, he said.

The new design is more expensive than established options, however. Costs are to be confirmed when the system is launched later this week.