Energy efficiency is a top priority for all data center owners. As scientists and researchers globally explore a multitude of options for conserving data center resources, an innovative concept has come to light in the IEEE Spectrum Report. The concept has been envisioned by TeraCool, a company based in Cambridge, MA, and the entire idea is based around the exhaustive needs of cooling required for data centers.
Some data centers are fortunate to have natural cooling from the environment surrounding them to aid their cooling needs. Others, however, don't have this luxury and have to find other means for cooling. For those planning to build data centers, the concept suggested by TeraCool promotes an energy efficient collaboration between data centers and liquified natural gas (LNG) facilities. Data centers can receive enormous amount of free cooling if placed next to a LNG storage tank facility.
Here is a basic breakdown of what the collaboration between LNG facilities and data centers could look like:
LNG practice a standard industry procedure of liquefying natural gas so that it can be easily shipped to locations where it can be best utilized. As a result of the liquefying process, as much as 600 times the gas can be transported using the same container space on the ship. The cooling process brings down the temperature of the gas to minus 162 degrees Celsius. When this temperature is reached, the LNG is heated so as to vaporize it so that it can then be distributed through the pipe distribution network. The byproduct of this heating process is a significant amount of cooling, industrially known as refrigeration capacity.
The collaboration between data centers and LNG plants suggests building an exchange loop between the two so that heat produced in the data center can be transported in liquid form and can be used to vaporize the LNG. On the other side of the coin, the cooling produced during liquefaction can be transported to the data center and used for equipment cooling.
The idea, though revolutionary and apparently risky, is currently being evaluated for further development. The myths associated with security around LNG facilities and the decreasing number of LNG receiving terminals in the USA are the major roadblocks around successful commercializing of this concept. However, if taken forward, data center and LNG facility collaboration has the potential of eliminating 550,000 tons of greenhouse gas annually.