Wednesday, 10 June 2015

American Project Seeks to Combine Data Centre with Aquaculture

The average data centre is a power-consuming beast that produces a lot of waste heat through its daily operations. That heat can be harnessed and utilised for other purposes, as evidenced by a number of projects that have combined the data centre with commercial and residential space heating however a new American project aims to do something different.  The plan of project managers is to combine the data centre with aquaculture in a symbiotic relationship.

The Foundry Project intends to make use of an 8-acre brownfield site in Cleveland, Ohio in the States in order to build a complex that includes an underground data centre and a fish farm where Mediterranean sea bass could be produced in fairly large numbers.  Both entities would be independent from a business standpoint, but dependent upon one another for optimal functioning.

The data centre would obviously provide the heat needed to maintain the right water temperature for the fish farm.  The fish farm will provide a means of environmental cooling and capturing waste heat without the need for chiller towers on the data centre site.  The data centre saves money over the long term with reduced power consumption.

The power to make all of this work would be generated the data centre.  During the summer months, some of the extracted heat would be stored in geothermal storage tanks located underground; some would be used to power the heat capture and recycling processes.  During the winter months, the stored geothermal heat would supplement the heat capturing processes during even the coldest of months.  Most of the excess heat year-round would be directed toward keeping fish ponds warm.

Looking for Partners

Foundry Project officials say they are ready to begin the design and build phase as soon as they find partners willing to get on board.  They are particularly interested in a data centre design in which the architecture of the structure works in concert with the surrounding area.  Because the actual structure will be underground, the infrastructure necessary to make the design work could be a bit challenging.  They are confident the right partner can be found.

As for the fish farm, the type of aquaculture design the project requires is nothing new.  Aquaculture is already a robust industry in the United States at multiple levels.  It is simply a matter of adapting current best practice to the brownfield site and its eventual data centre.

There is a lot of excitement in Cleveland surrounding the Foundry Project and its technology goals.  Not only will the site be the first of its kind to combine the modern data centre with an entirely unrelated project, it should also lead to new ways of designing data centre facilities to make the best use of waste heat by locating underground.  Local officials are equally excited that the project will create jobs and spur development in a part of town that is economically depressed.  Lofty goals indeed, but goals Foundry Project leaders believe can be reached.

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