Tech Innovations Cool Data Centers

by | Jun 9, 2009

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sentilladatacenterWith energy efficiency regarded as a key aspect of a green data center, many companies are working on innovative ways to cool their data centers. They are also looking for new tools to track and manage the energy consumption of their facilities to help them reduce carbon emissions and cost.

For example, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), based in Brentford, UK, has installed a water chiller cooled by the Grand Union Canal that runs alongside the building to cool its data center, instead of using traditional air chillers. The company expects to save 1,339,000 kW/hr of electricity each year, enough to power 75 houses and the carbon dioxide equivalent of taking 256 family cars off the road. The company also expects to save approximately $162,000 annually in electricity costs.

The company worked with the British Waterways Board, which manages Britain’s network of canals, and the UK Environment Agency, which conducted an environmental analysis to make sure that the canal was not adversely affected.

With a water chiller the cool air is replaced by cool water. Water is pumped from the canal to the water chiller, and using a series of heat exchangers, is returned to the canal via a waterfall. The company says during the process the temperature of the water rises from between 4-degC and 9-degC, but as the water passes over the waterfall in a thin wide layer some of the heat naturally evaporates. The cascade over the waterfall oxygenates the water in the canal, benefiting the flora and wildlife, and the flow of the water down the canal dissipates the heat quickly.

The system has been in operation since October 2008 and one water chiller is now doing the work that three air chillers used to do.

The company estimates if 1,000 waterside businesses nationwide could follow GSK’s lead by using canal water for heating or cooling, it would result in annual energy savings of about $162 million and reductions in carbon dioxide emissions of approximately one million tons.

In the U.S., Syracuse University, IBM and the state of New York recently announced a joint project, a $12.4 million, 6,000-square-foot data center that will use half as much energy as a typical data center.

The data center at Syracuse University will feature an on-site electrical co-generation system fueled by natural gas microturbine engines, which will generate 100 percent of the center’s electricity. The liquid cooling system will use double-effect absorption chillers to convert exhaust heat from the microturbines into chilled water to cool the data center’s servers, with sufficient excess cooling to handle the needs of an adjacent building.

To help manage energy use in data centers, companies like Sentilla Corp., a provider of demand-side energy management solutions for data centers and commercial facilities, are offering products that help companies track and measure facility-wide energy use  The Sentilla Energy Manager for Data Centers Version 2.1 now integrates energy tracking and measuring information from multiple vendors across the data center infrastructure, including IT and physical facilities.

In addition to providing a granular view of energy information at the equipment level, this new release brings a consolidated view of power use of all the equipment in the data center. According to Data Center Pulse (DCP), a group of global data center owners, operators and users, providing a total facility energy profile is a critical tool in reducing carbon emissions and costs due to energy use.

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