SK Lubricants of Korea has taken a $25 million stake in US immersion cooling provider GRC, as part of a $28 million C Series investment round, which takes its total funding to date to $43 million.

SK and Texas-based GRC (formerly Green Revolution Cooling) will jointly push forward developments in oil-based immersion cooling systems for data centers. Immersion cooling submerges entire electronics systems in inert dielectric oil, to enable more efficient cooling and allow higher power densities. The agreement was signed at SK's US HQ in Houston, Texas.


SK says it wants to expand its lubricants business, to become a "heat management solution provider."

Standard cooling

Liquid cooling offers much greater efficiency than air cooling, but is still only used in a minority of data centers, because the market and the technology are less well developed, leaving customers uncertain about which technologies meet their needs and can be used together.

SK and GRC will jointly develop high-grade immersion coolants and cooling methods, says the SK release. The two aim to standardize and commercialize immersion cooling so it can become more widespread, promoting it as the "only" long-term option for data center sustainability - and one which will generate carbon credits.

SK's business is based on petrochemicals and it has a leading share in the market for "base" oil, a refined crude oil product. With increasing moves away from the oil industry, SK wants to boost its green credentials. Offering premium base oil as a single-phase immersion coolant fluid will be part of its "Carbon to Green" program - providing a new and environmentally friendly outlet for its products.

According to its release, SK sees thermal management as a future “cash cow,” which will help businesses reduce power usage and carbon emissions, while helping SK Lubricants improve its own ESG credentials and earn carbon credits.

Liquid cooling systems can cut data center power usage by around 30 percent by eliminating most of the energy used for cooling, says SK.

“As the AI, the VR, and the self-driving industries are gaining traction, the high-density data center market is expected to grow dramatically,” said Cha Gyu-tak, CEO of SK Lubricants. “I believe this equity investment in GRC will maximize cooperation between the two companies and help us be the first mover in the market while helping us grow into a liquid-based thermal management solution provider and accelerating the execution of our financial story in the long term.”

GRC has been active in immersion cooling for more than 12 years. It has partnerships with Intel and HPE, among others, and recently raised $7 million in Series B venture funding.

"We’re delighted to partner with SK Lubricants, and this most recent investment will allow us to expand the important work we are doing to future proof the cooling infrastructure of data centers globally,” said Peter Poulin, CEO of GRC.

In March. GRC launched a "Try before you buy" program, which lets data center owners and operators deploy its ICEraQ Series 10 immersion tanks on a trial basis, extending a previous program described in DCD.

Potential customers can send samples of their IT equipment to GRC, for technicians to test their compatibility with immersion cooling, Alternatively, GRC can install a Series 10 ICEraQ in the data center, where the customer can test their equipment and gain hands-on experience with immersion cooling.

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