When it's time to chill, seawater cooling systems have environmental and cost-effective advantages over other methods used by data centers. Implementation costs may be higher, but such systems pay themselves back in terms of energy savings that translate into a significant reduction of operating costs – as well as an increased IT load capacity.
It’s possible to take the benefits and cost savings of seawater cooling one step further -- as my company Interxion found -- by using the same seawater to cool two data centers and help heat neighboring homes and businesses. This case study details the energy savings and additional benefits that resulted from taking such a nontraditional approach.
Interxion runs a network of data centers in 11 countries across Europe. Like Google, another company using seawater cooling, Interxion has seen success in lowering PUE measurements and increasing data center energy efficiency. Interxion wanted to explore ways to increase energy efficiency and cost savings to an even greater degree.
Seawater cooling systems pump deep, cold seawater through a data center’s HVAC system. As a result, the air circulating within a facility is cooled, which has the effect of lowering the inside temperature. Although the mechanics of this process are similar to chiller systems, seawater cooling completely eliminates the need to cool water down, which is a process that requires very high levels of energy. The traditional seawater cooling system runs an allocation of seawater through a data center once.
Interxion decided to stray from the traditional approach and run the same seawater through two data centers two times each. The reasoning? After running through one data center, the seawater temperature is still cold enough to cool a second. This practice effectively quadruples the use of the seawater and also minimizes the amount that needs to be pumped out of the ocean.
Photo of cooling technology at Interxion's data center (heat exchange units with lightning protection rods on top of them) in Amsterdam courtesy of Interxion.
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