Nuke Site Converted Into Data Center

The interior of 1&1 Internet's data center in Karlsruhe, Germany.

The interior of the 1&1 Internet data center in Karslruhe, Germany. The company is building a new data center atop a former nuclear fuel facility in Hanau.

1&1 Internet announced today that it is building a 107,000 square foot data center atop a former nuclear fuel facility in Hanau, Germany. 1&1 Internet, one of the largest web hosting companies in the world, says it plans to fill the facility with more than 100,000 web servers. The data center, which will run entirely on renewable energy, is scheduled to open in late 2009.

The site in Hanau was built in the late 1980s to produce mixed oxide (MOX) rods made from enriched uranium and plutonium. The Siemens AG facility, which didn’t include a nuclear reactor but handled spent nuclear fuel, became the focus of protests and was closed in 1995. Two years ago, the premises were released from nuclear control legislation, clearing the way for commercial use.

“The new data centre in Hanau will further optimise the operational efficiency of our Internet services,” said Oliver Mauss, CEO of 1&1 Internet. “Of course, it is a very pleasing side-effect that a formerly contentious nuclear plant is now being transformed into a green data centre.”

1&1 said that in addition to using renewable power sources, the new Hanau facility will save energy by cooling the data center with outside air, a process known as air-side economization.

“We pay much attention to saving energy – after all, the power bill is one of the largest parts of our operational expenses for such data centres,” said Mauss. “The buildings and the surrounding area provide sufficient space to install energy-saving coolers that use the outside temperature for cooling and thus significantly reduce power consumption. 1&1 also uses low-energy components within all its servers.”

1&1 Internet has 7.7 million customers worldwide and manages over 10 million domain names.  It operates a U.S. data center in Lenexa, Kansas.

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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  1. Rob W

    I've wondered before why we don't have datacenters in the basements of apartment buildings, in relatively cool climates. Most of the year, all of that excess heat could be used directly to heat the building, right? Though perhaps in the summertime when the heat just needed to be vented it might be tough to find a place to blow it out that wouldn't upset anyone....

  2. @rob How about a laundrette? Heat flow would be good for drying clothes?

  3. Rob: There are a small number of multi-use buildings that contain data centers that have taken steps to harness heat and reuse it.The most interesting example of this is an IBM data center in Switzerland using excess heat from the data center to heat a nearby swimming pool.

    Basements can be problematic, though. Back in 2001 there were a number of data centers in basement levels of office towers in Houston that flooded during Tropical Storm Allison. Not a happy scene.

  4. Drew regards to building in basements, economically yes it would be extremely efficient...maybe...however, the amount of power needed to run a datacenter is extremely new lines would need to be run, and since a basement isn't large enough for the entire data center, multiple basements would be needed. This means multiple power sources all at different wattage prices...makes it a bit annoying and expensive on a budgetting standpoint. And how about staffing, this means there would need to be at least 2 employees to run a 24 hour shift. More money again, not to mention more time spent to keep track of the activities of each center. That being said, DC's are noisy. Apartment residence may complain. As well, zoning laws could also be an issue. There are allot of other problems with this as well, but I'll cut to my main point. Security...DC's are usually controlled through a mixture of human authentication and biometrics. Security gaurds, access codes, biometrics etc..all quite expensive. Multiple locations means additional costs. Not to mention you'll have tenants walking around within a floor of the DC....lets also talk about dirt and grime and dust, most DC's are quite clean as dirt may damage the hardware. Well, I think I'll stop there. Of course these are just opinions, but I was bored at work and thought I'd post.

  5. Stephen

    @Rob W I worked with an EDS engineer a few years ago and apparently at the time, the 5th Level (above ground) was optimum for data centres because it was extremely unlikely to be flooded/etc but also not too high that the power drop was excessive.