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Earth Hardware

The Fjord-Cooled Data Center 195

1sockchuck writes "A new data center project in Norway plans to use a fjord-powered cooling system, drawing cold water from an adjacent fjord to cool data halls. The fjord provides a ready supply of water at 8 degrees C (46 degrees F), eliminating the need for an energy-hungry chiller. The Green Mountain Data Center joins a small but growing number of data centers are slashing their cooling costs by using the environment as their chiller, tapping nearby lakes, wells and even the Baltic Sea."
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The Fjord-Cooled Data Center

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @11:27PM (#38456132)

    Hydrothermal datacenter vent creatures...

  • by Master Moose ( 1243274 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @11:28PM (#38456138) Homepage

    Building things in a cold climate keeps them cold.. . Film at 11

    • Building things in a cold climate keeps them cold.. . Film at 11

      Also up at the 11 o'clock news: data center opens up a seafood restaurant, claims no ovens or stoves needed.

  • by riboch ( 1551783 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @11:29PM (#38456140)

    As long as they do not destroy Slartibartfast's fjords then I am "cool" with it.

  • by caffiend666 ( 598633 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @11:30PM (#38456146) Homepage
    We're always looking for more afjordable options for data cooling. As long as they avoid the local pines in their construction. No one wants to be pining for the fjords....
  • by rbmyers ( 587296 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @11:31PM (#38456150) []
    The industrial revolution was growing on chill-water supplied by nature long before the triode, never mind the transistor, had been invented. And all the environmental issues came up long before Al Gore was born.
    • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @12:48AM (#38456540) Journal

      And all the environmental issues came up long before Al Gore was born.

      Gore was just graduating from college when Environmental Impact Statements became required under law.

      FYI, the straw that broke the camel's back and forced modern american environmental laws into existence was a *blowout on a drilling rig off the shore of California.
      A couple years later, the EPA was created and the Clean Water Act was passed, along with a bunch of other environmental laws.
      I'd hope that not everyone has to learn responsible stewardship the way we did.

      *The largest oil spill of its time, currently the #3 largest oil spill in the USA

      • by rbmyers ( 587296 )
        The issue is that industrial processes produce heat, and people were not so thick as not to understand that discharging heated water into a lake, river, or stream would have consequences, even if the discharge water was completely free of pollutants aside from excess heat. Engineers had to think about it because, even if you didn't care about fish and other wildlife, any body of water had a finite capacity for carrying heat away. That finite capacity had economic value. Once you start thinking about how
  • We have Slartibartfast to thank for this.
  • Strangely (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I have been pining for this

  • I wonder why it is that the thought of running a light-water nuclear fission power plant with only the atmosphere for cooling doesn't bother me, but the thought of using a fjord to cool a data-center does.

    It's an unsettling feeling...there must be a reason, I just can't think of it right now.

    • Can't think of one.

      The water that comes out won't be more than about 50C at the most, and if it's a cold environment and they run the exhaust water over a wide slipway and then let it fall through the air back into the fjord (or better yet, use it for office heat even before that), it will lose a lot of its heat to the atmosphere before it even gets back into the water. The waste heat from a data center is nothing, even to a small lake.

  • Oh, every week there's a canal.
    Or an inlet.
    Or a fjord.

  • Alaska comes quickly to mind.
    But even better would be the ski resorts. Plenty of bandwidth close to these, esp in Colorado. Likewise, plenty of cold and energy.
    • by IrquiM ( 471313 )
      The thing about this centre is that it's situated in an old nuke and EMP proof NATO complex. All you have to do is install some pipes to get the water in, and you're ready to go!
  • by plover ( 150551 ) * on Thursday December 22, 2011 @12:06AM (#38456324) Homepage Journal

    I came here looking for a chjevy-powered cooling system.

  • They don't make Fjords and Czevies the way they used to.
  • You have to figuring in more than just cooling:

    1. How much does power cost in the location
    2. How much power is available. Data centers suck huge amounts no matter how efficient.
    3. Do people want that heat island near them.
    4. Is the data center near the consumer of its resources? Latency still matters to me.

    • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @01:30AM (#38456714)
      1+2/ Huge steep hills plus glacial lakes means cheap hydro power in Norway.
      3/ Do you really think this is going to pump out much heat in comparison with realitively trivial heat sources like factories for making potato chips? Also since most of that heat is supposed to be going into the massive heatsink of a deep Fjord connected to a cold ocean it's not going to matter beyond a few metres from an outlet anyway.
      4/ For most purposes within the same hemisphere is plenty.

      Seawater cooling is an expensive pain in many ways but there's well over a century of experience with it. The data centre itself will probably have a freshwater loop and then a heat exchanger keeping that corrosive seawater out of the place.
  • Or somewhere similar in space.

  • This isn't new. Control Data, when they were next to Seymour Cray's farm in Minnesota, was dumping hot water into a well, while pumping cold water up from another nearby well. Once you drill down 15m or so, ground water temperature doesn't change much year round, and in Minnesota, it's around 46-52F.

  • by John Jorsett ( 171560 ) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @01:14AM (#38456654)

    A while back a business here wanted to use Pacific water to cool its equipment. They got turned down because discharging Pacific water back into the Pacific was deemed "contaminating" it because of the contaminants already present in the water that was going to be drawn from the ocean. I think they ended up going to a saner state.

    • by artor3 ( 1344997 ) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @03:52AM (#38457204)

      Source? This sounds like the sort of heavily distorted (or outright fabricated) story that one might hear from Rush Limbaugh or some other professional liar.

    • This happens in a lot of places. We discharge water into the Brisbane river that is far cleaner than the river requires and is almost of drinkable quality. Yet we're riding on the edge of our waste water licence.

      While I wouldn't drink our discharged water, I wouldn't even eat any fish we caught in the river given it's currently environmental rating of F (on a scale of A-F) []

  • Norwegian Deep Blues.
  • by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @01:29AM (#38456712) Homepage Journal
    I forgot how many times did i utter the same sentence this month. and yet another. scandinavia again.

    see the evils of socialist (social democrat in world political jargon) education and continued governance. (for the majority of last 80 years at least).

    more innovation per resource and population than the totally 'innovative' capitalist u.s. where is the wealth the 1% hoarding ? apparently not into innovation. for, if it did, we would be colonizing mars by now with the resources and population america has. but instead, there are homeless in the streets and police beating down students.
    • Horse crap. Toronto starting building a system like this in 2001 []. A large portion of the downtown including almost the entire financial district [] has been using this technique [] since 2004. [] It's called Deep Water Lake Cooling and takes 4 degree Celsius water from a point 5 km offshore and 83 metres deep in Lake Ontario. The water is treated first and much of it goes to the municipal water system directly, but some is diverted to the closed loop heat exchangers used in the cooling system and then on to the mun
  • Doesn't that warm the fjords?

  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @02:50AM (#38456986)

    As soon as I saw the word "fjord" in the title, I stopped thinking about the topic and started planning a Monty Python tie-in post.

  • Intriguing..... intriguing.....

  • Why is this needed? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I was applying for a job as a system administrator in the northern parts of Norway.

    They had simply drilled their datacenter into the mountain. They had a steady supply of 8 degree Celsius air from the surrounding cool mountain.

    It might not scale as well as cooling with water, but there is lot of rock in Norway...

    • by Dynamoo ( 527749 )
      We use another Norwegian data company that has its servers in a cave system, not far from the one mentioned in the article. They use some natural cooling too.
    • by necro81 ( 917438 ) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @10:15AM (#38458932) Journal
      Heat capacity is a major reason: a kilogram of water can absorb a whole lot more heat than a kilogram of cave air. So to cool off the same load, you need to transport (i.e., pump) a whole lot less water than you would air. It requires energy to do either one, so using cold water is more energy-efficient than using air. Plus, the required water pipes would be a whole lot smaller than the equivalent duct work for air.

      Using water has difficulties, though, which may have been the reason this data center you mentioned didn't use it. Unless you have a really exotic setup, you don't cool the processors directly using sea water; you use the cold water to generate cold air, and blow the air across the racks. That extra step requires a beefy heat exchanger, which adds costs. The infrastructure to get and transport the water is also capital-intensive compared to just having a lot of big air intakes. At some scale (i.e., X megawatts of cooling load), water will still win out because it is such an efficient heat transport fluid compared to air.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    How do they afforjd this?

  • Granted, Norwegian summers hardly last all year, but sea temperatures are not a steady 8 degrees throughout the year as the article seems to imply. People can and do bathe in the ocean in southern Norway during the summer and temperatures can reach 18+ degrees in the water. 8 degrees is probably the average, but a "steady supply of water at 8 degrees C" seems somewhat misleading.

    Am I missing something here or is this simply normal overselling?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by One808 ( 2537044 )
      Could be they're taking the water deep enough that the temperature stays constant. Although, it would be even lower then, about 2-4C, I believe.
    • by GauteL ( 29207 )

      Having just had a "doh"-moment, I'll reply to my own post. They are obviously not using the water from the very top ocean layers. The temperatures near the seabed are probably much more steady throughout the year and will certainly not be 18+ during nice summer days.

  • ... I was just pining for one of those.

Things equal to nothing else are equal to each other.