As energy demand grows, the power sector’s water use is expected to further increase, putting strain on scarce water resources. 36 countries in the world already suffer from high or very high water stress. Concerns about water use have sparked an interesting sustainability debate among data center operators considering cooling system options.
Because IT equipment requires an enormous amount of energy to operate and also generates a lot of heat, data centers can require a lot of water. Traditional direct and indirect evaporative cooling solutions often evaporate large amounts of water as soon as outdoor ambient conditions allow. If water is cheap and plentiful, this makes sense due to the power savings and cost advantages.
The reason evaporative cooling solutions are so effective is that water is a more efficient medium than air for removing heat as evaporation increases the cooling process. However, while these cooling solutions have been shown to significantly reduce energy consumption compared to other technologies, they have historically been relatively high water consumers. In addition, the effectiveness of both direct and indirect evaporative cooling varies greatly by location. This is because a drier, less humid climate increases the efficiency of the system.
Data center designers often assume that there is no middle ground when it comes to cooling data centers. The final decision is usually made based on the client’s primary request. The options are always one of the following:
- Low energy consumption and high water consumption (typically direct or indirect evaporative cooling systems).
- Energy intensive, no water (usually chilled, DX or pump cooled)
Having a data center cooling solution that can operate efficiently and effectively in low to moderate ambient free cooling mode means that data center mechanical systems require less energy. A dilemma often arises when free cooling is no longer available.
In such situations, the cooling system switches to either mechanical DX or chilled water cooling mode, or adiabatic/evaporative mode (including mechanical DX mode for refilling) with little to no flexibility.
An often overlooked but important aspect of the decision for data center operators to understand is that reducing water consumption in the data center typically reduces the burden of water consumption to the water source of the power plant. is to return to Therefore, even if the local water consumption decreases, the water consumption of the entire power generation cycle will increase as the power generation increases. Using water in data centers reduces the inherent electrical losses associated with the power required for cooling between power plants and data centers.
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Recent developments in indirect evaporative cooling technology have led to the emergence of new types of cooling solutions. This new technology allows data center operators to determine which cooling method, or combination of cooling methods, will most effectively and efficiently cool their data center. In addition, it can be flexibly changed according to changes in internal and external conditions, such as an increase in IT load or an increase or decrease in electricity or water costs.
Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all method. However, with the advent of new technologies, these two options, with or without water, are no longer diametrically opposed and flexible compromises can be easily achieved. When designing data centers for a sustainable future, clients should ensure that the use of water in insulation/evaporative solutions aligns closely with low energy efficiency and sustainability goals to reduce carbon emissions. , positive that it can save water.
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Telehouse North 2 data center. London, UK. https://www.excool.com/excool-project-insight-telehouse-docklands-london/