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Data Centers Work To Reduce Water Usage

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the hence-the-local-steam-baths dept.

The Internet 225

miller60 writes "As data centers get larger, they are getting thirstier as well. A large server farm can use up to 360,000 gallons of water a day in its cooling systems, a trend that has data center operators looking at ways to reduce their water use and impact on local water utilities. Google says two of its data centers now are "water self-sufficient." The company has built a water treatment plant at its new facility in Belgium, allowing the data center to rely on water from a nearby industrial canal. Microsoft chose San Antonio for a huge data center so it could use the local utility's recycled water ('gray water') service for the 8 million gallons it will use each month."

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I Am A Data Center (-1, Offtopic)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525463)

I Am Large And Thirsty.

Fist Prose.

Generate more water (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27525471)

More than you can shake a stick at [goatse.fr] .

Conserving water is for faggots and retards.

Re:Generate more water (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27525545)

turn your faglisp off and stop shaking your stick

Re:Generate more water (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27525717)

I'll stop shaking my stick if I can thrust [nimp.org] it nice and deep into your ass. We both know you love it.

Idea (3, Insightful)

YayaY (837729) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525517)

They should use closed circuit cooling system.

Re:Idea (2, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525527)

That costs a lot more up front and depending on how much water you are using may never be worth it.

Re:Idea (3, Insightful)

thhamm (764787) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525551)

it's always a closed circuit. just depends on the timescale.

Re:Idea (0, Redundant)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525645)

Exactly! The water is going nowhere. There's just as much now as there was 4.5 billion years ago. And there's plenty of it bubbling up from deep underground we haven't even touched. Christ! We pipe oil 800 miles across Alaska. Do they mean to say we can't do the same for ocean water? In fact I thought it might be one of the reasons to just float the damn things, or better yet sink 'em so they are surrounded by nice cool water. As always, it's about the damn money.

Re:Idea (1, Funny)

Walt Dismal (534799) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525713)

It is a scientific fact that the blood of H1B workers makes a far better cooling material than water. As soon as CEOs realize this, several problems will be solved. Better and cheaper outsourced cooling, fatter wallets for politicians, and far better code.

Re:Idea (2, Interesting)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525733)

Shouldn't it be reasonably easy to just pump water around underground for a while to cool it off before running it through the pipes? Or in coastal areas just suck some up from really deep and send it right back down again.

Re:Idea (2, Insightful)

supernova_hq (1014429) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525853)

That's called geothermic cooling. It is starting to be used quite a bit in rural areas and I'm surprised that they haven't started using it in industrial areas. Maybe it's due to the amount of water needed.

Re:Idea (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27526013)

Probably. Residential systems are pretty expensive and require a fair amount of ground contact (which is part of what drives the cost); industrial quantities would probably require enormous fields, to the point of impracticality.

Re:Idea (4, Interesting)

jhw539 (982431) | more than 5 years ago | (#27526061)

It doesn't really work for a couple reasons. First, heat doesn't get destroyed in the ground or wicked away (unless you have an underground river, which changes the whole story), it is stored. This is awesome for a building that pumps heat into the ground in the summer and then needs to pull it back out in the winter, but sucks for a datacenter that is pumping out MW of heat 8760 hours a year. Second, massive quantities of heat. A rule of thumb would be 200 feet of well per 3.5 kW of cooling. A modest datacenter is around 15 MW of waste heat, so you need 860,000 linear feet of well (with double that much piping making a U down each well). And after a year you're screwed anyhow because of issue #1.

Re:Idea (1)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 5 years ago | (#27526253)

and just sucking up really cold deep water and then spitting it right back out again?

piping water (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 5 years ago | (#27526065)

We pipe oil 800 miles across Alaska.

Water is piped or pumped now. The Colorado River [wikipedia.org] used to flow from Colorado to the Sea of Cortes [wikipedia.org] or Gulf of Mexico through the desert. Now it rarely makes it all the way, instead Nevada and Arizona cities built in the desert like Los Vegas and Phoenix pump a lot of the water out. Because of the Colorado River Compact [wikipedia.org] 8 states have claims on more water than the river has. Scientists now say that when the pact was drawn up the river reached a high water level.

Some states are now drawing up plans to pipe water from the Great Lakes [greatlakesdirectory.org] region to the Southwest.

Falcon

Re:Idea (1)

YayaY (837729) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525587)

Then we should charge them for the water they uses. That would make it worthwhile. The use of grey water would also be OK, I just have a problem with the use of drinking water for cooling.

Re:Idea (4, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525669)

1. They do pay for the water
2. Why do you care what they do with water they pay for? I would not care if they used bottled water to cool their data center. The water is not destroyed, in fact it is still drinkable water, just a little warmer.

Re:Idea (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525823)

I'm sure that they do pay something for water; but it may or may not have any relation at all to its actual cost.

For a confusing tangle of historical and political reasons, allocation of water rights is often deeply perverse. In some cases, you'll get a situation analogous to IP address (mis)allocation, where a number of entities received enormous grants of water rights many decades ago. In other cases, you'll have radically different rates across user class(frequently, agriculture ends up having access to astonishingly cheap water, compared to everybody else, and compared to the cost of producing it). In other cases, you'll have a situation where the level of water use is only maintained by sucking the aquifers dry at a rate far beyond that of replenishment, which works like a charm, up until it blows up in your face.

Because of the often dysfunctional state of pricing, uses that are flagrantly unsuitable to the location and climate often end up happening, because they don't bear anything close to the real costs of what they are doing. I can't speak for YayaY; but my concern would be not what they do with the water they pay for, they can do whatever they like, but for whether or not the price that they are paying accurately signals the cost of consuming the resource, or whether they end up imposing an externality on everybody around them.

Re:Idea (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525825)

I care because water is a limited supply.

SO if someone started buying all the water rights and hording them, it would be bad.

In the context of this story, I am not concerned.

Re:Idea (1)

supernova_hq (1014429) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525889)

Wow, I always forget that not everybody lives in BC. Other than dry-spells, we have an almost unlimited water supply.

Re:Idea (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525927)

Yeah, I can see lake Erie from my office. People say water shortage and I just think they are mad.

Yeah, I can see lake Erie from my office. (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 5 years ago | (#27526189)

People say water shortage and I just think they are mad.

If water is pumped from the Great Lakes [greatlakesdirectory.org] to the Southwest you may not see water much longer.

Falcon

Re:Idea (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | more than 5 years ago | (#27526319)

Significantly less efficient, especially if the relative humidity is low. (Incidentally, what is generally termed closed circuit just separates the condenser water from the cooling tower water, and still has equal evaporation.)

Hopefully we will see more controls that optimize for water and electricity efficiency, but it is great to see people using grey water for cooling tower make-up... as long as they are not upwind from me!

But, if you could distill the water with waste heat and solar, it might get interesting.

sooooo ? (3, Insightful)

quickOnTheUptake (1450889) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525579)

Not trying to flame, but honestly who cares how much water flows through a data center? Is the water having toxic waste added? Is the water being destroyed so it is creating a drought in the area? Are thousands of gallons an hour of boiling water being pumped back into the local stream and changing the ecology?
It seems to me that most uses of water are pretty benign, it gets used for some purpose and eventually it all goes back into wild where it naturally get recycled back into the local watertable. Is there any environmentalist out there who can enlighten me on why the water "consumption" of a data center (or any other major plant) is an issue?

Re:sooooo ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27525599)

Perhap's it's more a fiscal cost issue- all that water does start costing money if it's nice, human consumable, water.

Re:sooooo ? (2, Interesting)

samriel (1456543) | more than 5 years ago | (#27526117)

I don't see why they couldn't just start using gray water for their cooling systems. After all, nobody is going to be drinking it; it's just going to be pumped through some copper tubes and maybe across a processor. That would a) reduce the use of human-drinkable water being used for cooling and b) very likely lower the cost of coolant water for these datacenters.

Re:sooooo ? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525605)

I believe one concern is merely that water companies may not be able to handle the load, which would mean they would upgrade. I am not really sure what is wrong with that though.

Re:sooooo ? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525701)

it's expensive, very, very expensive.
It can be hard to get a rate hike to cover it.

Re:sooooo ? (2, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525765)

How is it hard to raise the price?
In fact just doing that would influence folks not to waste it.

Re:sooooo ? (1)

Cylix (55374) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525789)

When you consume millions of gallons of water it's not something you disclose after hooking up to the main.

So it's a negotiated setup between two companies with the intention to reserve X amount.

It's like any other industries that needs resources to operate and for the most part it is harmless.

The concern I believe is the reliance and need on the great sums of water. Thus there is a good deal of focus on reducing cost and usage while maintaining the same level of performance. Essentially, an increase in efficiency is sought.

Re:sooooo ? (1)

Quothz (683368) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525625)

Not trying to flame, but honestly who cares how much water flows through a data center?

Whomever has to pay the water bill cares.

Re:sooooo ? (0)

Chabo (880571) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525745)

I'm pretty sure it should be "whoever" in this case, especially since "who" makes sense in your parent's post, and "whom" doesn't.

[/pedant]

Re:sooooo ? (2, Interesting)

Kelson (129150) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525677)

honestly who cares how much water flows through a data center?

I take it you don't live in an area facing a water shortage?

Re:sooooo ? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525743)

Then perhaps you guys should raise water prices?
That might make an incentive for folks to stop using so much.

Re:sooooo ? (3, Insightful)

Kelson (129150) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525787)

That might make an incentive for folks to stop using so much.

Yeah, it might prompt people to do something like try to cut down on how much water their data center uses.

Re:sooooo ? (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525809)

Perhaps they ought to put their data centers in the Arctic instead of in California. Seems pretty obvious...

Re:sooooo ? (2, Interesting)

JO_DIE_THE_STAR_F*** (1163877) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525929)

<Sarcasm> Yeah because there is a huge IT workforce in the Arctic and lots of others who want to move there from someplace like California. </Sarcasm>

Currently in Canada you get huge tax breaks if you live in the arctic and company's have to pay huge incentives to get people to work up there. Which usually includes working in rotations such as 3 weeks up there and 2 weeks paid off with free transportation south.

Re:sooooo ? (2, Interesting)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525837)

that doesn't work as well as one might think. It becomes a very messy political issue.

Add to that, people need water to live then you realize that there is a pretty fixed price point.

Re:sooooo ? (1)

marco.antonio.costa (937534) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525911)

People DO need water to live. Now HOW much water they need to live isn't fixed, so when water becomes scarce the price should go up to signal to people that they need to save.

Prices are not just tags, they're the most important data in a market economy.

Re:sooooo ? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525991)

yes it is. It's probably less then they're using, but it is fixed.

Re:sooooo ? (0, Offtopic)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 5 years ago | (#27526075)

And that's why socialism is such a great idea

"Of course I have the right to live in a city even if I can't afford the basic necessities of life in the middle of a desert"

Re:sooooo ? (2, Interesting)

EvanED (569694) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525895)

That might make an incentive for folks to stop using so much.

I'm sure all those people who live in $CITY_WITH_DATA_CENTER and have no decision-making abilities there, but would still be affected by rising prices, would get right on that.

Re:sooooo ? (2, Insightful)

supernova_hq (1014429) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525923)

I fail to see why the datacenter is "consuming" water instead of just "using" it. If they develop standards for the cooling system and have the incoming water passively cool internally filtered water, they should be able to pump the hot water out and back into the water system.

Not only are you re-using the water without the need to re-filter it (assuming companies use safe parts), but if the water companies had any sense, they would use this free "hot" water and have incoming hot water to people homes! Hot water usually isn't consumed anyways (used for showering, washing, etc), so even if a "little bit" of contaminates got in, it wouldn't be a big problem. Just think, you could have an entire city that doesn't need individual hot-water tanks!

Re:sooooo ? (3, Interesting)

jhw539 (982431) | more than 5 years ago | (#27526091)

Datacenters, like 99% of facilities with large cooling loads, evaporate water to reject the heat. The water comes in and is essentially boiled off through devices called cooling towers. You reject 1000 btus per pound of water evaporated - there is no more efficient way to reject heat. Not coincidently (if you believe in evolution), your body rejects heat the exact same way.

Re:sooooo ? (1)

supernova_hq (1014429) | more than 5 years ago | (#27526297)

Yes, but if they move the hot water back into the grid and take in more cold water, they no longer need the evaporators.

Re:sooooo ? (2, Interesting)

bakuun (976228) | more than 5 years ago | (#27526157)

Actually, similar systems are in place in most decently large Swedish cities, called "distant heat" (i.e. heat that comes from a distance). However, instead of being used for showering, it is used to heat the buildings (i.e. circulated through radiators). It is very efficient, and any large nearby facility that produces heat can be hooked up to the system.

It's a win-win situation - residents who want warm homes get access to heating, and corporations who want to cool their datacenters/furnaces/whatever get access to cooling. It's both cheap and environmentally very sound.

Re:sooooo ? (1)

SuperQ (431) | more than 5 years ago | (#27526223)

So you really don't seem to understand how datacenters are using water.

Most of the cooling they use is Evaporative. They use the thermal property of evaporation to reduce the temperature hot return water. This is how they consume water, they just evaporate millions of gallons into the air.

http://www.google.com/corporate/green/datacenters/summit.html [google.com]

Most large buildings do this. You will see this type of cooling on any building larger than a small office. When I worked at the university, I would go up to the roof of a 20 story campus building that had huge 5 meter wide/tall cooling towers to evaporate water to cool the whole building complex.

Re:sooooo ? (1)

supernova_hq (1014429) | more than 5 years ago | (#27526311)

See my other post above regarding evaporation...

Re:sooooo ? (5, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525983)

Not trying to flame, but honestly who cares how much water flows through a data center?

Anyone who cares about their city and it's infrastructure.
 
 

Is there any environmentalist out there who can enlighten me on why the water "consumption" of a data center (or any other major plant) is an issue?

It doesn't take an environmentalist - all it takes is someone familiar with this issues who takes a moment to think.
 
The problem is that the water for many cities and towns comes from aquifers or dams - which rely on rain to replenish. Many of these are already highly strained, even before the load of a data center is placed on them. The water taken from these sources is then treated, which costs money, and again many cities water systems are already strained because of the high capital cost of building new ones. Again, a data center consumes so much water that this just exacerbates the problem.

San Antonio? (2, Interesting)

Joffy (905928) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525629)

I thought there was a big deal in San Antonio about a water shortage already. Isn't the Edwards aquifer being over taxed?

Re:San Antonio? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525655)

The water does not disappear, it runs in cold and comes out warm, is it not just going back into the water treatment system?

Sounds like San Antonio needs to go to a closed loop water system, not data centers.

Re:San Antonio? (4, Informative)

ajlitt (19055) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525691)

RTFA. The water loss is because many data centers use evaporative cooling towers.

Re:San Antonio? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525751)

I guess that works in the south, here you would get frozen water 8 months out of the year.

Re:San Antonio? (4, Informative)

jhw539 (982431) | more than 5 years ago | (#27526135)

Nope. If you're pushing 15 MW out of a couple towers 24/7 they will not freeze up. You do run the cooling tower fans backwards for a few minutes every once in a while to thaw any ice that forms from splashing on the intake louvers, but the tower itself doesn't freeze up. Last time I put a tower into a 0F design climate, I used a dry sump so if the tower wasn't on the basin was dry.

An annoying fact of physics is that when it gets really cold, evaporative cooling becomes less effective. The air just can't hold much water, and it's the phase change from liquid to vapor that gets rid of your heat. So, it's not freezing that make low temperatures worrisome but actually loss of capacity.

Re:San Antonio? (4, Informative)

demonbug (309515) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525761)

That's the point - the water does get consumed. The simplest (cheapest) way to cool the water after running it through the data center is to use evaporation towers. As the name implies, you lose a substantial portion of the water to evaporation. Evaporation towers are very efficient in terms of power and material costs, but they go through a lot of water. Costs a lot more to construct a closed-loop system - you need some sort of giant radiator to cool the water. Evap tower you just build a hollow box, put some sprayers at the top, a collector at the bottom, and off you go.

Re:San Antonio? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525793)

Why cool it again at all?
Just dump it down the drain and let the water treatment folks send it out again.

Evaporative cooling is idiotic. It only works in hot dry places, the kind of places that are short on water.

Re:San Antonio? (1)

SuperQ (431) | more than 5 years ago | (#27526245)

It's not idiotic, it's very efficient, and as stated by TFA, you can use grey water.. stuff that has been cleaned after you shit in it.

Re:San Antonio? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525815)

How about building data centers were it is not hot as hell? Where I am you can just pump your glycol to the storage tank that is on top of the building and back 8-10 months of the year.

Re:San Antonio? (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 5 years ago | (#27526011)

What goes up....

Breathing gray water spray? (3, Informative)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525637)

Microsoft chose San Antonio for a huge data center so it could use the local utility's recycled water ('gray water') service for the 8 million gallons it will use each month."

I don't know about the rest of you. But *I* certainly don't want to breathe the air near a cooling tower fed with gray water. The risk of Legionella from CLEAN water in a cooling tower's spray that was contaminated by a bit of local dirt is bad enough. Imagine the risk from breathing the dust particles from partially-treated sewage aerosolized to the tune of 180 gallons per minute.

Sounds like another good reason to avoid Microsoft sites. (Bet they're doing this elsewhere, too.)

Re:Breathing gray water spray? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525699)

You don't aerosolise water to cool a data center. You run the incoming cold water through a heat exchanger, and blow air across the other side of the heat exchanger.

Re:Breathing gray water spray? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27525867)

And then you have heated water that may be too hot to dump back into the system, be it the local wastewater system or a river or whatever. Now, maybe datacenters don't need to reject enough heat for this to be an issue, but it is something that always needs to be considered when designing an open-circuit cooling loop like that.

Re:Breathing gray water spray? (1)

Chabo (880571) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525767)

... What kind of water-cooling system lets the water evaporate into the air?

Re:Breathing gray water spray? (2, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525777)

Swamp cooling, in places were it is hot and the humidity is low it works. Which is exactly were you should not be wasting water as most hot dry places have a lack of water.

Re:Breathing gray water spray? (4, Insightful)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525801)

What kind of water-cooling system lets the water evaporate into the air?

Your sweat, as an example.

Re:Breathing gray water spray? (1)

Chabo (880571) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525919)

Allow me to rephrase:
What kind of computer water-cooling system lets the water evaporate into the air?

Re:Breathing gray water spray? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27525961)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bong_cooler, as an example.

Re:Breathing gray water spray? (4, Insightful)

demonbug (309515) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525839)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rancho_Seco_Nuclear_Generating_Station.jpg [wikipedia.org]

See those big towers? Those are evaporative cooling towers. Simple, cheap, and highly efficient in terms of energy costs to operate (not so much in terms of water usage).

Ever wonder why power plants that use steam-driven generators (coal, gas, nuclear) tend to be located near large bodies of water? Same issues that high-density data center operators are discovering.

Re:Breathing gray water spray? (1)

daybot (911557) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525993)

I love the solar panels in the foreground of this picture. Talk about greenwashing!

Re:Breathing gray water spray? (1)

TClevenger (252206) | more than 5 years ago | (#27526077)

I love the solar panels in the foreground of this picture. Talk about greenwashing!

Rancho Seco was decommissioned in 1989. Since then, a public park, gas-fired power plant and massive solar installation have been built on the grounds. The towers are now empty.

Re:Breathing gray water spray? (1)

theycallmeB (606963) | more than 5 years ago | (#27526161)

Many industrial grade AC / refrigeration / ice-making systems spray water over the the condenser coils to improve the efficiency of the system as the evaporating water absorbs much more heat than would the air itself. Especially on hot days. Combined with a large blower fan and low ambient air temperatures, this can actually result in a small snow flurry next to the condenser stack (as if Chicago winters were not already bad enough).

Re:Breathing gray water spray? (1)

supernova_hq (1014429) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525939)

I think you may be confusing grey water with black water...

Don't come to Denver (1)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525941)

Denver is semi-arid -- the only way grass and trees can grow is through irrigation. Water is also not in abundant supply.

Since 2005, parks in Denver are irrigated with treated sewage. As well, the man-made lakes are filled with the same treated sewage, and there are paddleboats on said lakes. (And as a further water conservation measure, said lakes are now getting swimming-pool vinyl liners.)

If you fear treated sewage, you'd best avoid Denver parks, especially around 10:00pm when the high-powered sprinkler systems start up.

Re:Don't come to Denver (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525957)

Perhaps a better idea would be to not grow grass and trees in denver?

Maybe people could try living in places that actually have water?

Re:Breathing gray water spray? (1)

jhw539 (982431) | more than 5 years ago | (#27526163)

I would be no more concerned about grey water than I am about city water used in a tower. The typical infection path for legionella is city water, usually to immune-system-compromised patients in hospitals taking showers. Cooling towers (properly operated) actively treat the water specifically to deal with Legionella.

Hot water (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27525673)

Makes you wonder if it would be worth it to reuse the hot wastewater in some kind of turbine for power generation. How much energy would you have by feeding already heated water into a turbine? It seems a waste to not use the hot water in some manner or another.

Re:Hot water (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525709)

How is hot water going to do anything to a turbine?
This water is not boiling.

If they would just (2, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525685)

fill the data centers with mineral oil, their heating problems would be solved~

let me get this straight (4, Funny)

fred fleenblat (463628) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525687)

So, theoretically, through the use of evaporative cooling at large data centers, local humidity could rise, and...cloud computing could produce actual clouds?

Re:let me get this straight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27526251)

Your jib, I like the cut of it.

conspiracy (1)

KingPin27 (1290730) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525695)

It seems interesting to note that Google has some of the larger Data Centers - Wal Mart etc.. Its all a conspiracy to get us to google for water resources and come up with buying bottled water from Wal Mart.

Could they purify sea water? (1)

BlueMonk (101716) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525703)

Wouldn't it be possible to turn these data centers into water purification stations by boiling it and collecting/condensing the steam? They could *add* fresh water to the system instead of using it if they were given sea water (if the conduits could be cleaned of the residue left behind).

Re:Could they purify sea water? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525729)

Sure, once you figure out how the servers are going to survive at 100C. Then once you got that solved you can figure out how the techs survive at 100C.

Re:Could they purify sea water? (1)

saiha (665337) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525803)

This is actually a problem that is already starting. Hardware designers are making their systems to survive hotter and hotter temperatures (I think rackable is one). This is great because it requires less energy to cool the systems, however it creates a very poor work environment for the techs who have to keep the systems running.

Re:Could they purify sea water? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27526073)

If they can build boxes that can stand 100 degrees F, then they won't need cooling, they will just need fans and a few open windows.

I know the original statement was in C, not F.

Re:Could they purify sea water? (1)

BlueMonk (101716) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525863)

I thought the heat could be condensed so that even though the servers didn't run that hot, it could be compressed enough to evaporate water (in which case I suppose you'd need to use air instead of water... maybe transfer the heat from the water to air, then compress the air?) Isn't this the principal on which industrial air conditioners work?

Re:Could they purify sea water? (1)

supernova_hq (1014429) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525955)

One problem with your idea (other than the extreme heat issue), is that datacenters usually use purified water. Radiators, heat exchangers and even basic water-cooling pipes are usually not designed to handle impurities in water.

Purifying the water after, or even during the cooling process would end up costing more money in replacement parts that get wrecked from the un-purified water going through them.

Re:Could they purify sea water? (1)

giorgist (1208992) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525967)

Cool, and they can use the salt to coat the inside of the pipes for shits and giggles

Re:Could they purify sea water? (1)

jhw539 (982431) | more than 5 years ago | (#27526207)

Actually, yes. You don't have to boil the water to evaporate it. However, most datacenter facilities do not want to be in the desalination business and even with the free heat I don't know if it would be cost competitive with reverse osmosis plants. Note that free low grade heat is not a very rare commodity - most low-water locals can get the same grade of heat with very cheap solar collection.

Why so much water? (3, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525845)

Why don't these systems cool and reuse the water like every other air conditioning system in the world?

Why are they still using evap-based system, when that was pretty well disappeared from the building cooling industry 30 years ago?

How many big buildings do you see emitting steam clouds anymore?

Re:Why so much water? (2, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 5 years ago | (#27525915)

That would cost more. These systems have to deal with way more heat.

Re:Why so much water? (1)

BlackPignouf (1017012) | more than 5 years ago | (#27526009)

Well, it's just a compromise between water & electricity costs.

If you let some water evaporate, your cooling towers are more efficient and what's left from cooling water comes back at a lower temperature than in a closed cooling tower, thus allowing your chiller to work with a better coefficient of performance : you need more water but less electricity for a given cooling power.

BTW, steam is invisible ;)

Re:Why so much water? (5, Informative)

jhw539 (982431) | more than 5 years ago | (#27526021)

I'm guessing you must not be from the US because evaporation based cooling systems are THE standard for state of the art industrial and commercial cooling in the US. If you have over 250 tons of load, you have an open cooling tower - dead standard ASHRAE design. The evaporation of water via a cooling tower is THE way you reject heat. If you want to do it dry (as is common in Europe due to much higher fear of Legionella and local code officials freaking out about it), it is FAR less efficient in almost every case, even in monsoon climates like Banglore a wet cooling tower is more efficient.

Re:Why so much water? (1)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 5 years ago | (#27526123)

evaporative is cheaper

Re:Why so much water? (1)

daybot (911557) | more than 5 years ago | (#27526293)

Energy/fuel market fluctuations and the state of local market pricing are two of the most important factors in HVAC system selection. In my area, electricity is 10x more expensive than natural gas, so nobody uses electric water heaters. In the same area 40 years ago, people installed paraffin heaters because that was cheapest for a while.

I can understand how tapping into (groan) a constant supply of cold mains water could, in some areas, be cheaper than traditional closed-circuit A/C. It does seem terribly wasteful, though, especially in areas prone to drought. I guess I feel more guilty about wasting water than coal/oil/uranium... gives me something to think about!

Re:Why so much water? (1)

Circlotron (764156) | more than 5 years ago | (#27526305)

Why not feed the system with "dirty" water, condense the vapour and put it back into the "clean" water supply? Suitably filtered etc of course. Instead of totally wasting the energy, use it in the same way a desalination plant would. The heat you recoup from condensing the hot vapour also helps with heating the next batch of "dirty" water". Why power stations don't also do this is beyond me.

SHIT (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27525849)

onlY way to g0:

mod 04 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27525905)

Poor priorities, ARE ALMOST maintained that tto SlING you can

My vision for the future (2, Funny)

noidentity (188756) | more than 5 years ago | (#27526147)

I envision a future where instead of our computers being powered by water wheels and turbines, they are powered by electricity. Don't dismiss my idea out of hand! It will take lots of work, but I believe we can harness the power of the electron and eliminate this massive waste of water in the long term.

So this datacenter... (1)

jmccarty (1510147) | more than 5 years ago | (#27526361)

...is a series of tubes? And those tubes can be filled.
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