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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 AfroTrance ( 984230 ) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @12:24AM (#38456400)

    Releasing warm water back into the ocean could disrupt the local environment. Every company should minimise impact on the environment where possible. That is the rational thing to do, not something only 'hysterical environmentalists' support.

    For example, the area might be a breeding ground for fish. Should they impact the level of fish in the sea just so a data centre can reduce their power bill? It seems almost all of Norway's energy comes from hydro, so it isn't reducing greenhouse emissions.

  • by danbob999 ( 2490674 ) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @12:39AM (#38456478)

    Ever heard the expression "drop in the ocean"?

    This time it is to be taken literally too. Warm water of a data center won't change the temperature of the ocean at all.
    But any way, what is the other option? The heat has to go somewhere. Warming the air (that will then warm the ocean)?

    As long as you go deep enough and that the water is circulating in that fjord, there is no negative environmental impact.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 22, 2011 @01:11AM (#38456650)

    But more seriously,

    No you are not serious because you don't know what you are talking about. Your comment reads like a rambling complaint of some person you met who claimed to be an environmentalist. You conflate environmentalism with renewable energy and neglect to realize that most of the major positive environmental progress in the last 30 years has not been due to economic competitiveness, but rather due to the scientific realization that human activity has adverse effects on the environment and human health. GET IT? Most environmentalists I know are scientists who work unglamorously behind the scenes to identify and characterize threats that certain human activities pose to the environment and human health. And, unfortunately, many are simply unwilling to strongly advocate for their issues because the pressure they face by a bunch of wildly ignorant citizens with wildly misinformed views on science and environmentalism. Now, carry on with your ill informed diatribe on electricity infrastructure and everybody's obsession with off-grid living.

  • 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 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.
  • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @01:47AM (#38456768)

    an environmental impact study would need to be conducted if the hot water was being put right back in the fjord. Of course they don't have to do that at all. They can just use passive heat exchangers with the surrounding air instead

    Up to that point I suspected you knew what you were writing about, but this is where you've dropped out of your depth. Avoiding the problem of hot water in the Fjord can be done even with GW heat sources by using a combination of holding dams and distributed outlet pipes - that's the sort of thing that's done with nuclear power plants on rivers. The "passive heat exchangers" would be cooling towers, they come in small sizes as well as large and you can see the small ones as part of large air conditioning installations - however the entire point of siting next to a Fjord is to have cold water and a really huge heatsink! The water goes through and the surrounding environment is not measurably heated up if it's done properly.

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

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 22, 2011 @04:30AM (#38457356)

    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 ByOhTek ( 1181381 ) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @07:19AM (#38457944) Journal

    Avoiding the problem of hot water in the Fjord can be done even with GW heat sources by using a combination of holding dams and distributed outlet pipes - that's the sort of thing that's done with nuclear power plants on rivers. The "passive heat exchangers" would be cooling towers,

    With those dams and outlet pipes, is there a heat transfer to the surrounding environment, particularly air? Yes - you have your heat exchange.
    Is there a high energy mechanism (fan, pump, etc) set up to increase the transfer rate? No - you have passive.

    That's a form of passive heat exchange.

  • by neorush ( 1103917 ) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @11:54AM (#38460002) Homepage
    This is a really good and valid concern, we have a small spring fed pond that is ~20 acres that has native brook trout, they thrive in this cool water (this species no more than 55F for happy fish, water ~48F fresh out of the ground in the middle of the summer). I did the math on what it would take in energy to kill them because we wanted to run a circulator and exchanger for low cost air conditioning. There really isn't anyway we could actually kill them given the thermal mass of the water and how fast it is refreshed from the ground. But if you keep going with the math, something like a datacenter could easily kill all the fish, or at the very least greatly hinder there lively-hood.

Loose bits sink chips.