A big part of technological innovation (and survival on this planet) is simply the product of assessing needs and resources, and making due with what you’ve got. Although it requires outside the box thinking, this type of problem-solving often leads to the most efficient answer.
Nowhere is this better demonstrated than a data center in Stockholm, Sweden that’s using water from the nearby Baltic Sea to cool the IT equipment without using extra electricity. The data center, owned by Interxion, says that the innovative switch has already cut its energy bills by a million dollars a year.
Traditionally data centers have used big, mechanical chillers, adding to the already massive drain data centers have on the electrical grid. But that’s a tradition that’s on it’s way out. We’ve seen data centers use outside air and evaporative techniques as lower-cost alternatives, and now, sea water seems to be carving out its own spot in this eco-friendlier niche.
Although sea water-cooled data centers can be found around the world, it’s an especially obvious answer in Stockholm. Decades ago, the city turned its existing underground culvert system into a distribution network for seawater cooling throughout the city.
At the Interxion facility, the seawater does triple duty, cooling not one but three massive server halls. “The water enters the first facility at 42.8 degrees Fahrenheit (6 degrees Celsius) and exits at 53.6 F (12 C). It’s pumped to a second site, which it leaves at 64.4 F (18 C), and a third, which it leaves at 75.2 F (24 C). It’s then sent to a heat pump and used to heat local homes and offices,” writes James Niccolai for Networked World.
“When the project began, Interexion paid $1M USD annually to cool a 1-megawatt (MW) load,” reports DailyTech. “Since it’s used the project to expand, while keeping costs down. Today it pays $5.4M USD to cool 5.5 MW of load, approximately a $1M USD annual savings.”