Data center a new opportunity for large waste heat recovery

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Waste heat recovery for Data Centers can be a win-win situation, do you know why? The location of a data center has a huge impact on its environmental credentials. Data centers naturally require a lot of energy for cooling. We all know that energy cannot be destroyed, just reallocated, and that servers emit a lot of heat. Most businesses and data centers do nothing with the heat, and it is simply released into the air. This creates a ‘heat island’ and changes the immediate environment, which can only be a negative consequence in the long term. But it is also a wasted opportunity from a financial perspective.

It is possible to re-use the heat that a data center emits, so that it has climate-positive energy consumption. Similar to what is done to turn wastewater into a reliable heat source for heat pumps. If the data center is built close to infrastructure that needs heat (e.g. a power station or factory), then you can supply the heat to that third-party, eliminating the use of fossil-based energy and taking away tonnes of emissions. The
development of a climate-neutral data center also has a significant upside for the cost-efficiency of the services it delivers.

Heat recovery systems: Why to dissipate heat for free? 

Major data centers installed in Northen Europe or North America are taking into account the feasibility study to install in new developments or as retrofit opportunities for waste heat recovery systems on the exhaust air of their HVAC systems.

On top of that they found a new business added value to their core business that it is mainly sell rack spaces on their installation with higher or lower TIER certification. The waste heat recovered at low grade temperature (below 30-40ºC) could be elevate through heat pump system up to the district energy need close to the Data Center.

This investment will create a new income for the Data Center operator instead to be only a high energy demand center. The carbon neutrality could be achieve with the heat pump and thermal energy storage combination optimizing the complete CO2 footprint of the DC.

The main benefits to employ these technologies are:

  • Create a new added business for DC companies with heat surplus sale
  • Reduce CO2 carbon footprint to obtain a neutral DC
  • Promote a circular economy 
  • Create a SMART data center concept

Why heat pump implementation in a DC are a clear bet for sustainability?

The heat pump systems are usually designed for lower heat source temperature, in case of the data center the efficiency could be much higher than other heat sources applications.

This matter reinforces the criteria of sustainability that is basic on the preliminary district energy design.

In fact, to be one of the larger electricity consumers in the cities a heat pump implementation is a real opportunity to transform it into a large thermal energy producer at lower cost than traditional heat generation methods.

New rack design employing submerged technology will be a new opportunity to promote this waste heat recovery pump integration with the same chiller / heat pump equipment: All in one.

Instead of using low temperature chilled water, air handling units (AHU) and water pumps, the new submerged rack will need only one heat pump to supply dielectric fluid at higher temperatures creating a more simple refrigeration system that could provide during demand period hot water at the same time.

Main reasons to promote heat pump in Data Center:

  • Lower CO2 footprint 
  • Higher heat generation efficiency
  • New business incomes 
  • Neutral CO2 compliance