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Impacts

Read about the impacts of NREL's innovations in computational science.

Data Center Dynamics Eco-Sustainability Award

2018

NREL's high-performance computing data center won the prestigious 2018 Data Center Dynamics Data Center Eco-Sustainability Award, bolstering the lab's status as a world leader in data center efficiency and sustainability. Referred to as the Oscars of the data center industry, the annual DCD Global Awards recognize the industry's top data center projects and people. NREL was honored for its showcase facility for data center sustainability that demonstrates best practices in energy efficiency, waste heat capture, and use of component-level warm-water liquid cooling.

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Award-Winning Team Revolutionizes Data Center Water Savings with Thermosyphon System

2018

Challenge

High-performance computing systems like Eagle produce a lot of heat. NREL’s HPC data center cooling system was designed to be super effective in managing that heat—using evaporative towers that are more efficient and less expensive than energy-demanding chillers. However, the towers consumed approximately 2.5 million gallons of water annually to support cooling of the IT load—approaching an hourly average of 1 megawatt. NREL recognized the need to make the data center not just energy efficient, but water efficient, too. 

Achievement

NREL’s David Sickinger, Roy Fraley, and Kevin Regimbal, along with partners from Johnson Controls and Sandia National Laboratories, installed the thermosyphon hybrid cooling system on the roof of the Energy Systems Integration Facility. In combination with the existing evaporative towers, this advanced dry cooler that uses refrigerant in a passive cycle to dissipate heat—called a thermosyphon—forms an extremely water- and cost-efficient hybrid cooling system.

Impact

The system saved 1.16 million gallons of water in its first year of operation, cutting the data center’s onsite water usage in half while continuing to operate at optimal energy efficiency. The NREL team received 2018 U.S. Department of Energy Federal Energy and Water Management Awards for this outstanding achievement in energy and water efficiency and conservation.

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