Ben Hatton Data center ‘free cooling’: The water side economization process

November 19, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Cooling towers

Our outside cooling towers allow us to chill down heated water that passes through our secondary water loop.

Winter is approaching, which for us means that we can begin to take advantage of ‘free cooling’ in our data center. Free cooling is utilized by many data centers that are located in moderate or cold climates, and it allows the data center to take advantage of the natural temperature for much of its cooling needs during the cold winter months. This can result in significant energy savings as well as lower electric bills. We’ve touched on this somewhat in the past, but I want to take a look at how we accomplish free cooling at Data Cave. 

Water side economization

Data Cave uses the process of water side economization during the colder months to remove the hot exhaust air from our data suites, chill it down using a combination of our water chillers and outside cooling towers, and return it to our internal CRAC units. The overall process looks like this:

  1. Our CRAC units reject their heat into a chilled water loop.
  2. The chilled water heats up, and returns to a chiller, which uses power to chill the water again.
  3. As the chiller does its work, the heat is moved into a secondary water loop, which is sent outside to our cooling towers. Here, the cold outside air chills down this heated water.

Comparison to air side economization

In a past blog post we compared this process to air side economization, which is another form of free cooling that data centers can use at certain points in the year. I’d encourage you to read that post as well to learn more about the differences between these two methods: Air/Water Economizers: What’s in it for me?

This process allows us to achieve the same cooling objectives that we have every day of the year, but during these winter months we are able to let Mother Nature take care of most of the actual cooling work. The significant energy savings this results in makes the ability to take advantage of free cooling a very big deal for us as well as our customers.


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