TierPoint Plans Geothermal Data Center

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Data center and telecom service provider TierPoint says it plans to use a geothermal cooling system in its new data center near Spokane, Washington. The company said today that it has raised the $8.2 million needed to build the new facility, known as TierPoint 3, which is expected to be completed by April 2011

Geothermal cooling typically features a system of vertical holes drilled into the earth’s surface which house a closed-loop piping system filled with water or coolant. The cool earth allows the underground piping system to serve as a heat exchanger.

“Geothermal cooling is an underutilized and emerging technology which allows us to use renewable resources to cool our data center,” said said Greg Zemp, a partner in TierPoint. “It helps us conserve precious natural resources and keep refrigerants out of the environment.”

Major Reduction in Water Use
Using geothermal cooling will also dramatically reduce the water use at the data center, he said. “TierPoint determined that a traditional chiller cooling system would use approximately six million gallons of water each year,” said Zemp.

“Four and a half million gallons of that water would be lost to evaporation, and another one and a half million gallons would be returned to the water treatment system polluted with biocides,” he added. “TierPoint’s geothermal cooling system is non-consumptive, which means zero gallons will be evaporated or in need of treatment.” See our feature on Geothermal Data Centers for more examples of data centers using this approach.

TierPoint said it will also use flywheeel technology instead of batteries in its uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems. A flywheel is a spinning cylinder which generates power from kinetic energy, and continues to spin when grid power is interrupted.

Funding for the project was secured through debt financing from Bank of America/Merrill Lynch ($4.1 million) and Evergreen Business Capital and the Small Business Administration  ($3.1 million), in addition to a $1 million infusion by TierPoint.

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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