While the rain keeps falling in Northern California, the state’s water supply is nowhere near bouncing back from a shortage caused by years of severe drought, and data center cooling technology that doesn’t use water is one way data center operators in the state can be part of the solution.
Emerson Network Power claims data center operators that installed its pumped refrigerant-based cooling system in North America have saved more than 1.4 billion gallons of water in the last three years. A traditional chilled water-based system uses about 1 million gallons of water to cool 1 MW of IT capacity in a data center for one year, John Peter Valiulis, VP of marketing at Emerson, said.
The savings estimate comes from a process the company recently went through with the California Energy Commission to get pumped refrigerant-based systems approved as accepted form of economization, or free cooling, under the state’s Building Standards Code, known as Title 24. The code requires new data centers to use economizers but until recently only specified air-side and water-side economization systems as appropriate ways to satisfy the requirement.
Emerson, together with at least one of its customers, Digital Realty Trust, successfully lobbied the Commission to include pumped refrigerant systems in Title 24, opening data center markets in California for the product. The estimate that the technology helps avoid using 1 million gallons per 1 MW per year came from the Commission’s review process and were reviewed and validated by the Commission staff and an outside consultant, Valiulis said.
Before pumped refrigerant, Direct Expansion cooling was the water-saving alternative to chilled water, but while DX systems use very little water, they are not as energy efficient as pumped refrigerant systems, he said.
“We found that, in addition to energy savings, the system delivered another benefit that has since come to be highly valued in California because of the current drought conditions – it saves millions of gallons of water,” Aaron Binkley, director of sustainability at Digital Realty, said in a statement.