Data centres – small, medium and hyperscale – are shooting up all over the world and being crammed with tens of thousands of servers that all need cooling. All our tablets, smartphones etc. require vast amounts of data storage in ‘the cloud’ – which in reality, of course, is situated in those data centres.
Unfortunately, data centres also have a global carbon footprint at least as big as that of worldwide air traffic (if fossil energy is used).
Asetek – endorsed, for example, by internationally recognised environmental thinktank Concito – is currently engaged in a major climate policy effort to draw attention to the need to set requirements for data centres on reusing the enormous amount of residual heat that they emit.
Processor water cooling is so much more efficient than traditional water cooling that around 20% of the electrical power needed can be saved altogether. On top of that, though, the technology has great potential for circular reuse:
‘In fact, in 2020, we set up our own little demonstration data centre here at our headquarters in Aalborg and connected it to the city’s district heating network. Together, we use it to show that, if you use direct processor liquid cooling such as Asetek has developed, up to 80% of the power coming into a data centre can be returned to society in a carbon-neutral way in the form of hot water at 60 degrees, without the need for external district heating pumps,’ says the project’s technical manager, Anders Saksager, who is Senior Specialist, Global R&D at Asetek.
In Europe alone, these 11 capitals could be heated all year round using only waste heat from data centres in the EU, adds Anders: London, Paris, Berlin, Brussels, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Vienna, Oslo, Dublin and Helsinki.
Asetek has been working on data centre cooling since 2012. The company specialises in cooling for high-performance computing data centres, but there is the potential for wider application. Asetek has been a supplier to twenty Top 500 installations.