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Using the Sea To Cool Your Data Center 194

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the bending-mother-nature-to-your-will dept.
1sockchuck writes "We haven't yet seen signs of the Google Navy of seagoing data centers that use the ocean for power and cooling. But data center developers are planning to use sea water air conditioning in a new project on the island nation of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. Cold water from deep-sea currents would be piped ashore to be used in a heat exchanger for the data center facility. A similar system has been used to replace the chillers at Cornell University, which draws cold water from Lake Cayuga. The Cornell system cost $50 million, but has slashed cooling-related energy usage by 86 percent."
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Using the Sea To Cool Your Data Center

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  • interest prospect (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Icegryphon (715550) on Monday September 21, 2009 @05:20PM (#29496747)
    But what are maintenance costs and lifespan of such a piece of equipment,
    I can't image Saltwater not eating the hell out of all the piping.
    • by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Monday September 21, 2009 @05:25PM (#29496811) Journal

      I can't image Saltwater not eating the hell out of all the piping.

      Yeah, thats the real problem. I hope we discover such metal soon so we can get boats and ships in the oceans too.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by digitalunity (19107)

        Most steel ships are painted to prevent corrosion. Paint is a thermal insulator. Coating the inside of your heat transfer pipes with a thermal insulator is like masturbating with sandpaper - it might work, but it doesn't work well.

        Aluminum is a great thermal conductor and is saltwater resistant with the 6061 and 6063 alloys. Galvanic corrosive action does occur though, but this can be avoided with careful attention to construction methods and avoiding direct metal to aluminum contact.

        • by saforrest (184929)

          Most steel ships are painted to prevent corrosion. Paint is a thermal insulator. Coating the inside of your heat transfer pipes with a thermal insulator is like masturbating with sandpaper - it might work, but it doesn't work well.

          My kingdom for mod points...

          • Re:interest prospect (Score:5, Informative)

            by treeves (963993) on Monday September 21, 2009 @08:14PM (#29498455) Homepage Journal
            I hope you intended to mod the comment down. What do you think ship's propulsion plant cooling systems and condensers use for cooling water and what do you suppose they are made of? Yes, seawater flows through metal tubes on every ship on the sea. There are saltwater corrosion-resistant alloys, like some bronzes, Monel, and others. Nobody paints the inside of condenser tubes on a nuclear-powered ship, and the primary reason is NOT because paint is a thermal insulator. It's just not necessary and it would be a PITA to do it.
            • I didn't indicate painting the inside of a nuclear powered ship's cooling system was a good idea. I was merely pointing out that paint has been used for years to resist corrosion on marine vessels.

              Bronzes and monels are unnecessarily expensive in applications such as this. Stainless steel, as another person pointed out would also work.

            • by daybot (911557) *

              The Sydney Opera House has closed loop saltwater cooling for their A/C - they feed the saltwater pipes a plate of zinc every year, which is used as a sacrificial metal to avoid corrosion. Pretty clever :)

        • by goombah99 (560566) on Monday September 21, 2009 @06:35PM (#29497545)

          Other than a set up for your gag, I don't see why you call paint a thermal insulator. It does not have to be so. many kinds of coating promote thermal coupling.

          One thing that does bother me is dumping waste heat in someone elses backyard for free promotes the inefficient use of energy. that is, I can decrease my cooling costs by using more efficient but more expensive computers which incidentally produce less waste heat, or I could use less expensive inefficient computers and take advantage of public domain cooling, like cayuga lake.

          Is Cornell paying a tax to use Cayuga lake as a heat dump? that would help internalize the economic externalities that drive them to consume more electricity because the cooling is free.

          likewise for sea water cooling.

          This might seem like worry much about a small thing: isn't the cooling resevoir comparatively infinite? the answer is surprising no, not only is it not infinite, it's never going to grow, and we have already saturated it in much or the US and Europe. For example the big limit on Nuclear power plant growth is now availability of cooling. SOme rivers in Tenesee are known to heat up to 80 degrees when the power plants operate a full power in summer.

          thus this needs to be publicly regulated now.

          • Paint doesn't have to be a thermal insulator, but many are. Like adhesives, there is a paint for everything.

            See my other comments re: ecological impact. You're right - the impact is non-negligible, even in seawater.

          • One thing that does bother me is dumping waste heat in someone elses backyard for free promotes the inefficient use of energy.

            Ok, but for a given amount of heat generated, you may as well get rid of it in the most efficient way possible. "Free" i.e. cheap generally means less energy is expended in the dumping of the heat, and that's a good thing for everyone.

          • by afidel (530433) on Monday September 21, 2009 @08:50PM (#29498801)
            Not sure of the specifics of Cayuga lake but if it's anything like the Great Lakes then there is a large area of cold water that is basically devoid of life. One recent plant used the incoming city water supply which is drawn from a cold deep region as a thermal sink, since the water was just going to heat to ground temperature anyways the net effect was slightly lower heat load on the earth surrounding the cities water pipes. Of course the energy sink potential isn't infinite, but it's potentially very large and if it reduces the one side of the energy equation by ~80% then that's all the fewer resources we have to use up. Pardon me if you take offense but you sound a bit like the people in the Greenpeace movement who can't see the forest for the trees, we need to take advantage of things like freecooling and nuclear power so we can reduce the immediate resource usage that is occurring. If we find better ways to do things down the road that's great going for cleaner (not clean) options today is better than waiting decades for something perfect to come about if ever. We aren't going back to hunter gatherers so we need to do what we can we the technology we have to minimize our impact.
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by drenehtsral (29789)

              Cayuga Lake is hard to talk about as just one ecosystem, because it has such a strange set of features... It is (like all of the Finger Lakes) a collection of water in the bottom of a glacial valley. Unlike many such lakes, however, Cayuga lake is VERY deep in places (over 400 feet deep), and there are (if I recall correctly) springs or caves or something like that at the bottom in the really deep parts. That being said, it also has a decent sized shallow shelf, and a bunch of small bays and swamps where

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by volxdragon (1297215)

                Oh god no, not another tax in Ithaca....I remember having to buy tax stickers that you applied to EACH trash bag you put out at the curb (and you had BETTER make sure there were absolutely zero recyclables in the bag or the trash people would shred the sticker and the bag leaving trash everywhere on your front lawn for you to deal with). Talk about a PITA...

                But you're right, the hippies up there make even the most left-wing liberals look centrist...

            • A coworker once asked me about geothermal energy usage in the context of limited resources in the form of: "Won't the Earth eventually run out of hot?"

              This is an early answer to that problem!

          • by BitZtream (692029)

            SOme rivers in Tenesee are known to heat up to 80 degrees when the power plants operate a full power in summer.

            So? The local lake where I live was 80 for the 3 months this summer. No place in TN can be more than a 100 miles north or south of my latitude so 80 can't be THAT bad.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by MicktheMech (697533)

          Aluminum is a great thermal conductor and is saltwater resistant with the 6061 and 6063 alloys.

          The 6000 series alloys are also extremely expensive compared to steel and more importantly difficult to weld, even compared to stainless.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by treeves (963993)
            Not to worry. Aluminum isn't used in ship seawater piping - try Ni-Al bronzes, Ni-Cu alloys, like Monel. There are probably some stainless steels in use and titanium alloys but those are more expensive too. One thing the GP got right is that galvanic corrosion is a big concern in seawater piping systems and heat exchangers. Sacrificial zinc anodes are used frequently to prevent it.
        • Coating the inside of your heat transfer pipes with a thermal insulator is like masturbating with sandpaper - it might work, but it doesn't work well.

          Tell that to Pinocchio [jokes.com].

        • Hmmm. My understanding is that they are going to pull up the water and pump it back, not just a simple heat exchange. If so, then insulation may be useful.
        • by beckett (27524)
          On a ship they'd probably use a passive system, like a sacrificial anode [wikipedia.org] which needs replacing periodically. if you can plug it in, then cathodic protection [boatcorrosion.com] would be just as good.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by ruewan (952328)
        The electricity company in Barbados has been doing this for as long as I can remember. They use sea water to cool their equipment. There equipment seems to last. Most of their intake pipes are fiberglass. The place where they pump the water back out to see is a favourite bathing spot for locals. I wonder about the long-term environmental impact of this. The water there smells funny but it feels really good.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by FooAtWFU (699187)
      You keep the saltwater on one side of a heat exchanger; it minimizes the vulnerable piping, and helps a lot. Heck, you could build the big seawater pipes out of concrete.
    • Re:interest prospect (Score:5, Informative)

      by Useful Wheat (1488675) on Monday September 21, 2009 @05:28PM (#29496861)

      A low carbon stainless steel such as the 316 series should be more than sufficient for any piping. Moving parts such as pumps and impellers would be made of titanium for optimum durability and minimum downtime. Lifetime of the pipes is assured by simply adding a small corrosion allowance to the wall thickness (maybe 1/4"), and checking for corrosion once in a while to make sure its not being destroyed faster than you predict. Although that may sound ridiculous, I promise you it is both fairly common and not that hard. Seawater is the lifeblood of many power plants, and it doesn't take a miracle to handle it.

      • by initdeep (1073290) on Monday September 21, 2009 @05:37PM (#29496943)

        seawater is the lifeblood of every naval nuclear power plant, and as someone who was in the navy and in charge of the heat exchangers attached to a naval nuclear power plant, i can assure you it is a big deal and a LOT of time and maintenance is put into preventing corrosion and the associated leakage in piping that a heat exchanger utilizes.
        In order to have efficient heat exchange between two moving fluids, you need a very thin wall and you need it to be clear of any and all corrosion. This means a lot of time and effort, not too mention chemicals are used.
        For a mobile naval vessel, there is no other option, so the cost isn't an issue.

        For a land based cooling system, it is an issue because there very well may be less expensive alternatives.

        Not too mention the possible ramifications (good and bad) of discharging all of the heated water back into the marine ecology.

        • The ecological impact was my first reaction. Rising ocean temperatures has been shown to increase toxic cyanobacterial algae bloom production. Heating water with megawatts of power and pumping it back into the ocean could have negative localized ecological effects.

          As far as stainless steel, sure 316 is resistant, but it's a lot more expensive than 6061 aluminum alloy.

        • Maybe this is a stupid question, but why can't the surfaces that are exposed to the corrosive fluid (i.e. saltwater) simply be painted with a corrosion resistant paint?
          • First, the paint will likely reduce the conductivity of the exchanger tubes and reduce the efficiency. Really though, the issue isn't so much finding a corrosion resistant material (there are austenitics or even duplex stainless steels that hold up pretty well), the issue is that these things are running 24/7 for a long time and salt water is going to eventually eat away at whatever you run it through. Normally you can just use pipes thick enough to last a while, but when designing a heat exchanger you want
      • Re:interest prospect (Score:5, Informative)

        by david.given (6740) <dg.cowlark@com> on Monday September 21, 2009 @06:58PM (#29497775) Homepage Journal

        A low carbon stainless steel such as the 316 series should be more than sufficient for any piping.

        Stainless steel is prone to pitting corrosion when exposed to water containing chlorides. 316 series stainless steel is significantly corroded by concentrations of chlorides above 1000ppm (ref [hghouston.com]). Standard sea water at 3.5% salinity has a chloride concentration of about 20000ppm (ref [seafriends.org.nz]).

        Stainless steel works rather like aluminium when it comes to preventing corrosion; the surface oxidises very rapidly to form a passive coating, protecting the bulk of the metal from oxygen. In water, this only works if (a) the water contains enough oxygen to passivate the metal, and (b) the water won't then dissolve the coating as soon as it forms. In particular, this means that stainless steel is not suitable for things like marine bolts, because under the bolt head the water will quickly lose all its oxygen and you'll get corrosion. It also means you have to be very careful in sea water as the salts can strip off the chromium oxy passive layer.

        316 stainless is considered 'marine grade', but only just. In particular, it's unsuitable for warm sea water, as this makes the water vastly more corrosive. So you probably don't want to use it for coolant pipes.

        And I haven't even mentioned electrolytic corrosion yet. Sea water is one of the most corrosive environments on the planet, and dealing with corrosion is one of the biggest problems when working with it.

      • by itwerx (165526)
        It's also not that complicated, just submerge a big old titanium heat exchanger out in the water and let convection do its thing. On the hot side you run distilled water, glycol, or whatever's the latest "green" fluid.
    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      Not to mention mussels and other sea life growing inside the pipe. It would be interesting to see a long-term economic study of this to see if the energy savings more than make up for the increased maintenance costs. Heating seawater has long-term ecological consequences. Also, wouldn't this necessitate locating data centers on prime ocean-front real estate, which is some of the most expensive real estate in the world? (Although it would be great for attracting IT professionals!) From a Thermodynamics stand
      • People and data centers have a different idea of what the ideal coastline is. Most people want it shallow and sandy: all the better to swim and surf in. A data center wants it deep and rocky, so it can access extremely cold water without picking up too much debris. The lack of overlap would contribute to lower prices for real estate.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Gonoff (88518)

      They manage well in the Sydey Opera House. They keep the salt water out of their system and heat exchange to fresh water which they circulate.

      To keep the corrosion low, they use sacricicial anodes http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacrificial_anode [wikipedia.org] . These are also used on ships, oil rigs and pipelines - probably more things too. This is nothing new. I believe the opera house was finished in 1974 so they are using well tested technology here.

    • But what are maintenance costs and lifespan of such a piece of equipment,
      I can't image Saltwater not eating the hell out of all the piping.

      Google "sacrificial anode".

      I'm more worried about heating up the oceans. Heat pollution is already a problem in rivers and streams, and it's not like we aren't already stressing the hell out of the oceans...

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by 10Neon (932006)
        This sounds a lot like the arguments about microwave radiation from radio towers and microwave ovens: it seems to overlook the massive amounts of energy arriving from the sun.

        Every square inch of ocean (minus those under clouds at a given moment) is constantly absorbing radiation. The fact that there are even oceanic currents- huge, fast-moving masses of water, moving for thousands of miles, is a testament to the kind of energy the ocean deals with all the time. If there's ever a problem with humans overh
  • by Useful Wheat (1488675) on Monday September 21, 2009 @05:21PM (#29496757)

    Although this solution is certainly "low power" by no means should it be considered to be entirely green. I work as an engineer on many projects that involve sea water, and when you're using it for a cooling source you typically need to inject some sort of chemical to sterilize the water to keep growths off your heat exchangers (barnacles are sort of a pain in the ass in your exchangers). As a result, using sea water for large scale cooling operations is prohibited in large regions of the United States (specifically the gulf coast) mostly over concerns that the large amounts of warm bleached water will damage the ecosystem. Although, that issue aside, using the ocean as a cooling medium is a great idea, and has been used reliably by power plants for many years.

    • by RingDev (879105)

      I'm surprised that a mechanical sleeve would not suffice. A cheap easily replaceable heat conductive barrier between the internal system coolant and the salt water. Sure, it would raise the design and operational costs slightly, but if it allows for a more ecological solution in areas that currently forbid such activity, it might still be well worth it.

      -Rick

    • by Nethead (1563)

      I was wondering about that when I didn't RTFA. I live about 100-500 yards from salt water (depending on the tide) and it's a nasty liquid. I've seen the bilge pumps on some of the local fishing boats.. e-gads! Salt water is always a fight that you can never win, just hold off for a while.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jollyreaper (513215)

      Although this solution is certainly "low power" by no means should it be considered to be entirely green. I work as an engineer on many projects that involve sea water, and when you're using it for a cooling source you typically need to inject some sort of chemical to sterilize the water to keep growths off your heat exchangers (barnacles are sort of a pain in the ass in your exchangers). As a result, using sea water for large scale cooling operations is prohibited in large regions of the United States (specifically the gulf coast) mostly over concerns that the large amounts of warm bleached water will damage the ecosystem. Although, that issue aside, using the ocean as a cooling medium is a great idea, and has been used reliably by power plants for many years.

      So maybe it would be more environmentally sound to run a closed loop out to the current to cool the water and bring it back? Salt water is nasty, evil shit.

      • Salt water is nasty, evil shit.

        You should've seen it when it was filled with primordial soup a thousand million years ago, and then came the primitive lifeforms, eeew!

      • So maybe it would be more environmentally sound to run a closed loop out to the current to cool the water and bring it back?

        Not really, because then you need some nasty chemicals painted onto your heat exchanger to keep sea weed and barnacles from growing on it.

        Paint the heat exchanger with poison, poison the water coming into the heat exchanger, it's the same either way - because if you don't, and it's in contact with seawater, something is going to try to attach itself to it and grow.

        Not t

        • There's new work being done on nanostructured finishes that prevent marine critters from gaining a proper purchase on it. All part of the biomimicry school of design. My dad always said the man who could invent a dependable anti-fouling compound for boat hulls would become richer than Croesus. Looks like we'll get to see if he's right.

    • by supernes (1560323) on Monday September 21, 2009 @06:12PM (#29497329)
      Can't you just heat it up to sterilize it?
      • by Obfuscant (592200)
        Can't you just heat it up to sterilize it?

        Yeah, and then you can bring deep, cold seawater up from the depths of the ocean to cool it off, and bingo, cold sterile water!

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by TheGreenNuke (1612943)
        You could... and thus defeat the purpose of using it as a coolant.
    • by skine (1524819)

      "Green" does not mean perfect, good, or even revolutionary. It means better; even if the improvement is only slight.

      Cars that burn gasoline are being called "green." Coal power plants are talking about being/going "green." etc.

      • Cars that burn gasoline are being called "green." Coal power plants are talking about being/going "green." etc.

        Ahhh, the power of marketing.
    • You can keep pool water sterile/inhospitable with other methods

      o3 as used in pools should be ideal here- it disappears from the system very quickly.

      chlorine (bleach) does tend to sit around in the water and react longer, o3 is very toxic to life, but tends to obliviate itself

      a giant corona discharge wire on the inlet-- no?

  • Cold water cooling (Score:5, Interesting)

    by diodeus (96408) on Monday September 21, 2009 @05:23PM (#29496793) Journal

    Toronto already uses cold water cooling for air-conditioning many of its office towers in the downtown core and has for many years. (see: http://www.enwave.com/dlwc.php [enwave.com]). Unless winter never visits Canada again, this is cold body is self-replenishing.

  • by LWATCDR (28044)

    If you could set up an OTEC system as well you could also power the data center as well as cool it.

    • Yes - check out Whispergen (jfgi) in New Zealand. They make a nice quiet home sized cogenerator based on a Stirling engine. Any decent temperature differential will do.
  • Powerplants use this frequently, it's a great idea until the amount of warm water discharged begins affecting the discharge site. I can't imagine a data center requiring the amount of cooling that a powerplant would need.
    The EPA required some modifications to a similar system for a powerplant in PR a few weeks ago.
    http://www.waterworld.com/index/display/article-display/1830526029/s-articles/s-waterworld/s-industrial-water/s-wastewater/s-2009/s-08/s-epa-requires_new_pipe.html [waterworld.com]
    • by vlm (69642)

      Powerplants use this frequently, it's a great idea until the amount of warm water discharged begins affecting the discharge site. I can't imagine a data center requiring the amount of cooling that a powerplant would need.

      Typical coal plants run around 40% efficient, top of the line natural gas plants run around 60% efficient. Within some rounding errors, the data center will dump about as much heat as its fractional share of the power plant that feeds it.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fossil_fuel_power_plant [wikipedia.org]

  • With a bit of luck, slashdotting them could get Global Warming as side effect. Looks like a good terrorist/supervillain/evil scientist plot.
  • by ipoverscsi (523760) on Monday September 21, 2009 @05:34PM (#29496925)
    I'm not too sure about the anthropogenic global warming, but I'm starting to come around to it. Earlier my contention was that global warming scientists are causing global warming [dailymail.co.uk], but I'm beginning to think that maybe -- just maybe -- computers in general might be the cause. I mean, if computers are having to pump cold water from the ocean depths to cool computers, that's gotta be dumping a lot of heat back into the ocean, right? Right...?
    • that's gotta be dumping a lot of heat back into the ocean, right

      yeah, but since nobody drives to a library anymore, it's a wash.

  • by insanewombat (656212) on Monday September 21, 2009 @05:34PM (#29496931)
    Most of downtown Toronto is cooled by lakewater - enwave energy [enwave.com] provides district cooling for most of the major buildings in the downtown core. This includes 151 Front St. [151frontstreet.com], one of the major datacentres in the area. See here [151frontstreet.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Archon-X (264195)

      Slightly offtopic, but still geeky.

      The enwave tunnels were being extended even as late as mid last year (I'm assuming it's either finished, or close to it).

      I managed to get in and pay them a visit while construction was stopped for the winter. It was a fascinating peek into their system - the tunnels are placed in overlapping crosses from as far North as Bay and Elizabeth, as far south as Lakeside. I assume the cross pattern is to give as much coverage as possible.

      For the intruiged, here are a few snaps.

      htt [ninjito.com]

  • Didn't they try this in New Orleans a couple of years back?

  • Am I the only one that reads things like this as:

    "Check out this great new way to heat our oceans using our datacenters!".

    You guys realize that the energy doesn't just disappear, right?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RobVB (1566105)

      The heat certainly doesn't disappear, but you're just pumping heat into cold water with this system. The transfer of heat from a warm to a cold substance is a process which increases entropy, which means it's a spontaneous process (it doesn't take any energy to do it).

      Air-conditioning, on the other hand, transfers heat from a cold to a warm substance (the cooled air inside becomes cooler, the warm air outside becomes warmer), which is not a spontaneous process, meaning you're using extra energy. This extra

    • by nsayer (86181)

      "Check out this great new way to heat our oceans using our datacenters!"

      You say that like it's a bad thing.

      We're going to have datacenters (the fact that you're posting to /. makes you a hypocrite otherwise). So which is worse? Cooling them with electrically powered air-conditioning? Or using something else as a heat sink?

      • by russotto (537200)

        We're going to have datacenters (the fact that you're posting to /. makes you a hypocrite otherwise). So which is worse? Cooling them with electrically powered air-conditioning? Or using something else as a heat sink?

        Radiate the excess heat into space. But not in any direction where any hypothetical aliens might live.

    • by glitch23 (557124)
      The heat goes into the ocean, which is already cool or cold depending on depth. The warmer water will warm up the cooler water so the temperature distribution averages out. The heat will dissipate from the water eventually from the surface of the body of water and enter the atmosphere just as if it was placed there originally by using A/C. At least, that's what my brain tells me but I've never had a class in fluid dynamics or thermodynamics.
    • by CFD339 (795926)

      We are already using the oceans to cool pretty much everything. We use the oceans and/or the atmosphere to absorb all the btu's we generate -- we just do it indirectly. If you use a heat sink with a fan on it, then you're heating the air around it. If you use an air conditioning unit in a data center, you're heating their outside the data center (in fact, causing a good deal more heat than you're removing from the room).

      In terms of taking less energy to perform the cooling, this may prove to have much le

  • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionar ... m ['o.c' in gap]> on Monday September 21, 2009 @05:50PM (#29497095) Journal

    "Welcome, humans! I am ready for you! Fish, plankton, sea greens and cooling from the sea. Fresh as harvest day. Overwhelming, am I not? Are you, too, startled? Am I too removed from your kin?"

  • Raising the temperature of a body of water by even a few degrees can have disastrous consequences; from outright killing species, to producing algal blooms that deplete oxygen levels (and then kill species). I mean, think about it. Water resists temperature change much more than air, so a sudden increase is bad news to creatures that just aren't made to deal with it. Also, a recent study has found that increased carbon dioxide levels are making marine life more susceptible to fluctuating temperature and oxy
    • by RobVB (1566105) on Monday September 21, 2009 @06:25PM (#29497453)

      The total mass of the oceans [hypertextbook.com] is about 1.4*10^21 kg. The total mass of the atmosphere [hypertextbook.com] is about 5*10^18 kg. That means the oceans weigh about 300 times as much as the atmosphere.

      The heat capacity of water [npl.co.uk] is about 4000 J * kg ^ -1 * K ^ -1. The heat capacity of air [engineeringtoolbox.com] is about 1 kJ * kg ^ -1 * K ^ -1, or about 1000 J * kg ^ -1 * K ^ -1.

      So since there's 300 times as much water as there is air, and the heat capacity of water is 4 times larger, heating up the atmosphere by 1200 degree Celsius would take the same amount of energy as heating up the oceans by 1 degree Celsius. This may not prove or disprove your point, I just started thinking about numbers when you said "raising the temperature of a body of water by a few degrees".

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by mujadaddy (1238164)

        heating up the atmosphere by 1200 degree Celsius would take the same amount of energy as heating up the oceans by 1 degree Celsius.

        Wow. Let's do that!

      • by Spit (23158)

        There are local concerns as ocean temperature is not uniform. On a small scale such as this cooling scenario, local heating may promote algae or bacteria, but the reality is it would be as insignificant as cooling blocks on the roof of your building.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Khashishi (775369)

      I knew the environment would come up. Of course, pretty much anything humans do is going to be deleterious to the environment. But put things in perspective. It's more thermodynamically efficient to transfer heat to the ocean directly, rather than burn fuel to create electricity to power a heat pump which is used to transfer heat into the air. The power plant also needs to be cooled, either by evaporating large amounts of water in cooling towers, or by transferring heat to an ocean or lake. Which do you thi

      • by RobVB (1566105)

        Which do you think is better for the environment?

        Secret option number three: join the Amish.

        • by Obfuscant (592200)
          Secret option number three: join the Amish.

          Sounds good, I'm turning my computer off right NO CARRIER

  • They should be more involved in getting optical computing on the table. That more than any other tech will have a profound effect on energy requirements. And given some of the latest R&D, the tech is getting very close to reality.

  • I thought the greeniacs were all up ons about nuclear plants using seawater for cooling because the heated exhaust invariably caused altered conditions at the point of discharge. And far be it from us horrible ebil humans to actually change the environment. That's just wrong.

    So what makes this different?

  • During the winter, does the Arctic Regional Supercomputing Center [arsc.edu] spend money (energy) heating their offices while cooling off their computers at the same time?
  • For decades we've recognized this exact same kind of exploitation of coastal waters as pollution. Why would this suddenly be acceptable for a data-center, and how will they avoid the associate ecological devastation?

  • I am amazed that for all the large number of reservoirs that western USA has, we never put heating/cooling coils in the bottom of these. Almost all from Colorado north contain snow melt and the bottom of these are around 40F (4C). It seems like many of these would be good places to run large pipes and simply use these for cooling AND heating. For example, Horsetooth reservoir of Ft. Collins could easily heat/cool a number of facilities and even a data center. Cherry creek, Chatfield, etc would also be capab
  • Cooling data centers accounts for almost 50% of the power consumption. This is a massive amount of energy used for cooling.

    But sea water has several disadvantages mostly keeping the system clean, barnacles, muscles and other small plants and animals will get sucked in to the system, and eventually clog up everything. It's also very corrosive. In addition hot water discharged from the system will hurt local ecosystems in both salt and freshwater systems.

    Using the Hull of a ship would solve the clogging probl

  • I can't understand why they want to go through the trouble of pumping very corrosive seawater (with the occasional squid or barnacle in it) instead of just hanging a radiator in the sea and pump their own coolant through it.

    Did I miss something?

It is impossible to travel faster than light, and certainly not desirable, as one's hat keeps blowing off. -- Woody Allen

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