Video: Inside Google’s Newest Data Center

Google is preparing to open its newest data center, a large facility in a former paper mill in Hamina, Finland. The facility uses the sea to replace the chiller in its cooling system, collecting cool water from an inlet pipe located about 7.5 meters beneath the service of the Baltic Sea. The water than travels into the facility through large tunnels carved out of granite. Google also used a small submarine to explore the tunnels to ensure that they were clear of blockages that could impede the flow of water. The incoming water goes through a series of four straining systems, and then into a water-to-water heat exchanger, where it cools a separate water loop that is used to cool the data center. In this video, Google Senior Director of Data Center Construction Joe Kava discusses the Hamina facility and the sea water cooling system. This video runs about 2 minutes, 30 seconds.

Speaking at Tuesday’s European Data Center Summit in Zurich, Kava said Google had to conduct extensive thermal testing before deciding whether to use the cooling system, which was developed by the paper company Stora Enso before it closed its plant in 2008. The thermal testing tracked differences in ocean temperature in different tidal and weather conditions, which helped the company determine the best depth for the input to provide an optimal temperature.

Google also is taking steps to re-cool the water before it is returned to the sea to ensure that its operations do not have an adverse environmental impact on the sea.

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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. Johnny Mnemonic

    Recool the water? Doesn't that defeat the purpose? If they're going to do that, they may as well directly cool the internal cooling loop. There must be an indirect passive system, or it would be terribly inefficient.

  2. @ Johnny Mnemonic watch the video: they say they recool the water with fresh water from the sea (not with a chiller) in order to minimize the environmental impact (no figures about that but the principle is already fair).

  3. Pat Price

    In California we have a nuclear power plant in south Orange County operated by Edison International. The plant uses ocean water in the heat exchanger. The temperature of the discharge water is .4f higher than the temperature of the intake water. Environmentalists went crazy claiming that Edison was going to destroy the marine habitat along the coast. What actually happened was just the opposite. The fish loved the slightly warmer outlet water and sport divers consistently report that shell fish populations have gone up dramatically in the area of the discharge and down current. The ocean is a huge temperature sink. One might suspect that ocean going boats like super oil tankers, cruse ships, war ships (aircraft carriers especially), and submarines shed more heat into the environment than discharge water from nukes and from this data center.

  4. Ben

    The process of tempering the outgoing seawater is explained at 1:22 in the video.

  5. Michael B

    They aren't recooling it, but rather premixing it. So let's say it's summer and the average inlet temp is 60F (average near 0F in the winter). The datacenter would draw in water, exchange it's waste heat into the water, let say raising it to 70F*. They would then mix input water into the output water at 65F*, instead of 70F*, with twice* the volume the originally imputed. So the same total amount of heat energy is being put out to the bay, but the impact is less. If you've ever seen the algae build up near the output of a nuclear reactor's, you'll see that the higher water temp can have a real impact. * Just illustrative numbers, since I don't work for Google don't know what the real numbers are in this case.

  6. LarryAndSergey

    Re-cool the water? How much un-cool water are they dumping to the sea that can possibly change its temperature?

  7. They recool the returning water by mixing the hot water with more fresh sea water prior to returning it to the ocean in an effort to stop it from affecting the marine life. So no, it does not defeat the purpose.

  8. Grammar Gnat Sea

    "beneath the service of the Baltic Sea." Do you mean "surface"?

  9. Where did Google get the idea of not using Chillers? I s it from the Japanese? Because I idolized them in discovering new things.

  10. Sunny

    It would have been nice to have those jobs in the United States.