“Temperature range is controlled by combining the coldness of snow and the warmth of IT exhaust heat to keep the temperature at the right level all year round.”–Kota Honma, Director of the White Data Center.
With the continuous technological innovation occurring on our planet, data centers are going to be a necessity. Keeping them from overheating is obviously important, and they also consume a costly amount of power. So what can be done to lower costs and keep the buildings cool? CNN reports that the White Data Center (WDC) in Japan is turning to snow to lower its costs. The data center, which is located in the town of Bibai on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, gets eight to ten meters of snow each year (around 26 to 33 feet). Since its introduction in 2014, it has reduced its cooling costs by 55%.
Here’s how the cooling process work: Some of the 200,000 tons of snow that are plowed in the city this year will be delivered to the outside of the data center. The snow that’s piled on the insulated mound is slowly melted by the heat from the servers. The melted water cools the pipes, which contain anti-freeze, keeping the temperature at 77 degrees Fahrenheit. During the summertime, the remaining snow is covered by woodchips and dirt to keep the data center cool.
Additionally, the data center uses the heat from its servers to power its greenhouse, where it grows mushrooms, “Japanese mustard spinach, coffee beans, abalones, and sea urchins.” With the cost savings, they are aiming to expand from twenty racks to two hundred, and expand their greenhouses.
Kota Honma, who is the Director of the White Data Center, discussed the importance of using snow to reduce their costs:
“WDC is always air-conditioned using only 100% natural energy, without using electric cooling or thermal fuels. Compared to the cost of renting [server] racks in Tokyo, we think we can offer them lower maintenance costs.”
It’s a cool idea and would be a great idea in the U.S. if we didn’t have diminishing snowpack and water levels. Image Credits: Tono Graphy of Unsplash (Featured Image), Daniel Gregoire of Unsplash, Taylor Vick of Unsplash