Greening the data center: Good for the planet? Really?

Today I’ve been reading about sea cooled data centers. In this post, I’ll look at the positives and negatives of this technique.

Sea cooling is basically conventional air conditioning using naturally cold sea water as a heat sink. The coolant loop from the data center uses a heat exchanger that sinks to the cold, deep, ocean water.

What are the positives of this approach? The deep sea makes a massive sink for absorbing waste heat from a data center. The cooling is predictable since the temperature is very stable, and the large difference between data center temperatures and sea temperature improves the efficiency of this type of cooling system.

What are the negatives? First is the scale. The article talks about 2 miles of underwater pipe 3200 feet deep. Second is that this technique still requires power to move all the coolant in the system. Third is the requirement to locate the data center in areas that may be vulnerable to flooding, sea level rise, or violent weather such as hurricanes.

The major issue, I believe, is that this takes no advantage of the waste heat of the data center to move coolant the natural way. Taking advantage of this reduces the power consumption the most and gain work from the exhaust heat so it’s not totally wasted.

How green would you like your data center to be?

Vern, SwiftWater Telecom
data center, web hosting, Internet engineering


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