NREL To Use Hot Water Cooling From Asetek

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Photo shows a server tray using Asetek's Rack CDU Liquid Cooling system. The piping system connects to a cooling distribution unit. (Source: Asetek)

Photo shows a server tray using Asetek’s Rack CDU Liquid Cooling system. The piping system connects to a cooling distribution unit. (Source: Asetek)

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) looks to join the Department of Defense in utilizing “hot water” liquid cooling, as a retrofit for its Skynet HPC cluster. Asetek announced that NREL will install its RackCDU (Rack Coolant Distribution Unit) direct-to-chip liquid cooling system, as the cluster is relocated to the new data center at the Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) in Golden, Colorado.

Last year, NREL had been studying the energy efficiency performance, savings, lifecycle cost, and environmental benefits of RackCDU for potential broader adoption across the DoD. At the ESIF data center, warm water (75 degrees) liquid cooling will be used to operate servers and to recover waste-heat for use as the primary heat source for the building office space and laboratories. The higher liquid temperatures used by Asetek’s RackCDU (105F) will improve waste-heat recovery and reduce water consumption for the data center.

By retrofitting an existing air-cooled HPC cluster with RackCDU, NREL will reduce the cooling energy required to operate this system, reduce water usage in the cooling system and increase the server density within the cluster, reducing floor-space and rack infrastructure requirements. The system will be installed as a drop-in retrofit to existing air-cooled servers and racks.

“Ambient water temperature in the hydronic system is a critical factor in data center efficiency and sustainability,” said Steve Hammond, director of the Computational Science Center at NREL.  “Starting with warmer water on the inlet side can create an opportunity for enhanced waste-heat recovery and reduced water consumption, and in many locations can be accomplished without the need for active chilling or evaporative cooling, which could lead to dramatically reduced cooling costs.”

The new Energy Systems Integration Facility is located at the  NREL’s campus in Golden. The data center is set to complete construction this summer.

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