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Cooling data centres with water

Cooling data centres with water

Cooling the data center represents a big IT cost and contributes significantly to carbon emissions. But plans are afoot to cool data centers with cold water from the world's oceans and lakes.

The island nation of Mauritius, located in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa, is making a pitch to become a data center haven, in part by using the ocean currents that bring cold water within two miles of shore.

The Mauritius Eco-Park plans to develop a system to use sea water air conditioning (SWAC) to support data center tenants. The concept taps deep water currents that bring colder water within two miles of Mauritius.

The Eco-Park plans to build a system of pipes that will extend two miles offshore and as much as 1,000 meters (3,200 feet) beneath the ocean surface, where the water is about 40 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees C). The cold water will be piped back to the data center complex and used in the facility's cooling system, eliminating the need for power-hungry chillers.

To date, this kind of water cooling hasn't been used in data centers, but there's no reason that it can't be deployed this way. Cornell University is already using the cold waters of nearby Lake Cayuga to replace the chillers used to provide cooling for its campus. It has reduced the university's energy use for cooling by 86 percent, and reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 20.6 million pounds a year. The city of Toronto uses a similar system.

So even if your data center isn't located near the ocean, it can still benefit from the technology, because lakes with cold water can serve the same purpose. And given the growth of cloud computing, you may well benefit from the technology if you deploy cloud-based services from a data center cooled by a lake or the ocean.

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