22Apr
Can Data Centers Benefit from Recycling Waste Heat?

Can Data Centers Benefit from Recycling Waste Heat?

On: April 22, 2022 Comments: 0
 

Waste heat has become a glaring problem for data centers, prompting engineers to seek opportunities to transform it from a liability to an asset. The severity of the waste heat situation has implications stretching far beyond data centers themselves, but also for the environment and life as we know it.

Each data center runs thousands of servers, featuring increasingly powerful processors. These processors run the calculations to power social media, news sites, and the entirety of the World Wide Web. As essential as they are to keeping us connected, they also produce waste heat – or the heat released from operating hardware.

The processors are only designed to withstand certain temperatures. When data centers fail to dissipate the excess heat, the servers will fail. Air cooling systems are a valiant attempt, but they struggle to remove enough heat to be considered eco-friendly. Traditional air cooling systems mitigate the server damage by redirecting the heat into the atmosphere, which contributes to global warming.

This lose-lose situation poses a challenge for the industry. Innovative data centers are asking themselves how they can actively recycle waste heat. Liquid cooling is a promising technological solution that may just save our digital lifestyles and the planet we depend on.

waste heat
Source: Shutterstock

Data Centers Produce Waste Heat: The Science of the Problem

Inside a data center, electricity feeds the servers and other IT equipment. The processors convert that electricity into computations for internet applications. As a byproduct, the processors also emit some waste heat.

The waste heat can have a serious negative effect on processor performance, slowing down the calculations and even damaging or destroying parts. Temperature is one of the main limiting factors of processor performance.

The waste heat also impacts the environment, adding to the climate crisis. On one hand, burning fossil fuels to produce electricity heats the planet as a byproduct of combustion. On the other hand, waste heat seeping out of data centers adds fuel to the fire, making the earth even hotter.

Data Centers CAN Benefit from Recycling Waste Heat with Liquid Cooling: The Technology of the Solution

In traditional air-cooled data centers, waste heat is irrevocably lost to the environment. But liquid cooling technology allows data facility operators to efficiently capture and reuse that waste heat. This answers the problem of waste heat by turning it from an ecological nightmare to a valuable resource.

Believe it or not, this concept is already being put to work. For example, the EcoDataCenter in Sweden reuses waste heat to make wood pellets. You can recycle heat for any process that requires it as an input. This offers a win-win-win for data centers. Liquid cooling systems prevent heat-damaged servers, the businesses profit from recycling the heat, all while saving the environment!

With liquid immersion cooling, like GRC’s ICEraQ, you transfer the heat from the servers through the rack’s liquid into the data center’s coolant. Then you can use the heat for whatever you like. The heat given off by the servers remains in liquid form the whole time, making it feasible to repurpose that heat with minimal loss – unlike air that’s difficult to control.

Liquid immersion cooling recycles virtually all of the server heat, versus air cooling’s 30%. Moreover, liquid recycling works at 45 degrees Celsius, nearly double the temperature of air cooling.

New computer processors have comparable power use density to a nuclear generator. Experts see the reuse of waste heat in urban data centers as a growing trend in response to this challenge. For example, you can reuse the “waste heat” to warm the water for tens of thousands of buildings. Again, redesigning waste to become an invaluable service to us in real, everyday life.

Recycling Waste Heat Contributes to Sustainability

As with other forms of recycling, the recycling of waste heat ameliorates an organization’s sustainability. Many large European cities now even require server heat reuse to receive a permit. In Sweden, data center users can resell waste heat for hundreds of thousands of dollars to heat water for the capital city. They can use this sustainability initiative to then generate a tenth of the city’s heating needs from data centers!

waste heat
Source: Shutterstock

There are ample creative and environmentally friendly applications of recycled heat. Think of all the processes that rely on heat – nearly everything! Plants and animals need heat for their metabolism; factories, warehouses, offices, and houses need heat to sustain their processes. Heat is a basic resource essential to society.

Recycling waste heat through liquid immersion cooling essentially prevents uncontrolled resource loss, by mobilizing the heat into a sustainable tool for civilization.

Liquid cooling also offers numerous other advantages over air cooling. It has a lower total cost of ownership, can handle far denser server capacity, protects hardware against debris and corrosion, and operates more quietly. Furthermore, liquid immersion is a more reliable system that you can install anywhere, from hyperscale data centers to shipping containers.

Recycle Data Center Heat With GRC

While data centers inevitably produce heat, that doesn’t have to be waste heat. Instead of seeing it as a problem, innovative organizations are approaching heat as a resource we didn’t even realize we had. To take advantage of this resource, they’re upgrading from air cooling to liquid immersion cooling.

Liquid immersion cooling dissipates the heat from the servers more effectively than air cooling systems. This saves the servers from damage while transmitting the heat into a reusable liquid – rather than irresponsibly polluting the atmosphere. There are countless creative uses of recycled heat, from cultivating fish to heating the water and air for human use. Our future is as bright as you can imagine it.

As with all worthwhile things, the best time to start was yesterday. The next best time to deploy GRC’s liquid immersion cooling solution is now! Achieve the best of both worlds; recycle data center heat with our forward-thinking technology today. Do us all a favor by contributing to the green data revolution. Ready to take your data center to the next level? Get in touch with us!

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