Datacentre cooling techniques could reduce energy bills
Written by Paul Almond, Director at Datacentre UK
Temperature control is paramount in the datacentre industry, however the problem is that maintaining a regularly constant, low temperature can be extremely costly.
Unlike most office environments, trying to keep a datacentre cool by using air conditioning would very quickly incur a large energy bill.
As datacentres use around two per cent of the Global Electricity Consumption, it’s easy to understand the need for a cheaper alternative. One solution to this is free cooling.
This low-cost, low-energy cooling method enables datacentres to keep the inside temperature at the optimum level (crucial), as well as saves companies some money off their high energy bills. But what exactly is free cooling, and can it be used in other working environments? Let’s take a look.
Keeping temperatures down
Free cooling makes the most of low external temperatures in order to help with water chilling. Once the water is cooled sufficiently, it can be used instead of expensive air conditioning systems to keep the internal temperatures of a building down.
An advantage of free cooling is that the chilled water can be stored for later use, or used straightaway, depending on the need.
This means that companies can take advantage of colder seasons, such as winter and spring, to chill water which can then be used during the hotter months to control and regulate the internal building temperature.
Reducing energy usage
As I mentioned earlier, it is a high priority of datacentres to reduce their energy usage wherever possible. Free cooling offers a more environmentally-friendly approach to controlling the temperature of a datacentre, not to mention a cheaper alternative to expensive air conditioning systems.
Free cooling solutions offer two options for datacentres: an integral free cooling coil and an independent free cooler.
The former is an ideal option for buildings with limited space and allows for high energy efficiency. Independent free coolers on the other hand are designed for maximum efficiency and could save a company up to 70 per cent in terms of energy usage.
Other sectors can benefit
So now we’ve seen how free cooling works in datacentres, let’s explore some of the other industries in which it may help to improve energy efficiency and reduce costs:
Pharmaceutical - In the pharmaceutical industry, maintaining a regulated temperature is vital. Chemicals and substances may require storage at specific temperatures, and free cooling is one way to ensure this.
With the change in seasons, free cooling can ensure that these products are kept at a regulated temperature within the company’s control, and one that adheres to the regulations set by the British Association of Pharmaceutical Wholesalers.
Food - Whether you work in a restaurant or a supermarket, there are strict guidelines set out as to how food should be correctly stored in order to be safe for human consumption.
Products in the dairy, fresh fruit and vegetables, and meat and fish categories in particular require cooler temperatures than most. Maintaining the internal temperature will prevent bacteria from growing and will ensure that the food products’ shelf life is as stated, and that any persons who eat the food do not become ill as a result.
Other cooling techniques
There are of course other cooling techniques which can be used to control temperature. These include:
Deep seawater; High-altitude coldness; Night-time coldness and Subterranean geothermal energy.
While these have similar advantages to free cooling, they are also not without their drawbacks. For example, if your company’s building is not located within range of a water source, it is unlikely you will be able to make use of deep seawater cooling. In locations where the outside temperature is still relatively mild at night time, it may also be difficult to use this cooling method to regulate your internal temperature.
Because of these limitations, those industries for which temperature regulation is important may find it useful to tap into the datacentre cooling expertise and implement a similar solution to help reduce high energy usage and make great savings on bills.
Biden establishes Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force
The US government is to establish a new body with the express purpose of addressing imbalances and other supply chain concerns highlighted in a review of the sector, ordered by President Joe Biden shortly after his inauguration.
The Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force will “focus on areas where a mismatch between supply and demand has been evident,” the White House said. The division will be headed up by the Secretaries of Commerce, Transportation, and Agriculture, and will focus on housing construction, transportation, agriculture and food, and semiconductors - a drastic shortage of which has hit some of the US economy’s biggest industries in consumer technology and vehicle manufacturing.
“The Task Force will bring the full capacity of the federal government to address near-term supply/demand mismatches. It will convene stakeholders to diagnose problems and surface solutions - large and small, public or private - that could help alleviate bottlenecks and supply constraints,” the White House said.
In late February, President Biden ordered a 100 day review of the supply chain across the key areas of medicine, raw materials and agriculture, the findings of which were released this week. While the COVID-19 health crisis had a deleterious effect on the nation’s supply chain, the published assessment of findings says the root cause runs much deeper. The review concludes that “decades of underinvestment”, alongside public policy choices that favour quarterly results and short-term solutions, have left the system “fragile”.
In response, the administration aims to address four key issues head on, strengthening its position in health and medicine, sustainable and alternative energy, critical mineral mining and processing, and computer chips.
Support domestic production of critical medicines
- A syndicate of public and private entities will jointly work towards manufacturing and onshoring of essential medical suppliers, beginning with a list of 50-100 “critical drugs” defined by the Food and Drug Administration.
- The consortium will be led by the Department of Health and Human Services, which will commit an initial $60m towards the development of a “novel platform technologies to increase domestic manufacturing capacity for API”.
- The aim is to increase domestic production and reduce the reliance upon global supply chains, particularly with regards to medications in short supply.
Secure an end-to-end domestic supply chain for advanced batteries
- The Department of Energy will publish a ‘National Blueprint for Lithium Batteries’, beginning a 10 year plan to "develop a domestic lithium battery supply chain that combats the climate crisis by creating good-paying clean energy jobs across America”.
- The effort will leverage billions in funding “to finance key strategic areas of development and fill deficits in the domestic supply chain capacity”.
Invest in sustainable domestic and international production and processing of critical minerals
- An interdepartmental group will be established by the Department of Interior to identify sites where critical minerals can be produced and processed within US borders. It will collaborate with businesses, states, tribal nations and stockholders to “expand sustainable, responsible critical minerals production and processing in the United States”.
- The group will also identify where regulations may need to be updated to ensure new mining and processing “meets strong standards”.
Partner with industry, allies, and partners to address semiconductor shortages
- The Department of Commerce will increase its partnership with industry to support further investment in R&D and production of semiconductor chips. The White House says its aim will be to “facilitate information flow between semiconductor producers and suppliers and end-users”, improving transparency and data sharing.
- Enhanced relationships with foreign allies, including Japan and South Korea will also be strengthened with the express proposed of increasing chip output, promoting further investment in the sector and “to promote fair semiconductor chip allocations”.