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Water Utilization in Data Center Infrastructure

[+] Author Affiliations
Ratnesh Sharma, Rocky Shih, Alan McReynolds, Cullen Bash, Chandrakant Patel

Hewlett-Packard Laboratories, Palo Alto, CA

Tom Christian

Hewlett-Packard Laboratories, Fort Collins, CO

Paper No. IMECE2010-40819, pp. 1413-1419; 7 pages
  • ASME 2010 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 5: Energy Systems Analysis, Thermodynamics and Sustainability; NanoEngineering for Energy; Engineering to Address Climate Change, Parts A and B
  • Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, November 12–18, 2010
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4429-8
  • Copyright © 2010 by ASME


Fresh water is one of the few resources which is scarce and has no replacement; it is also closely coupled to energy consumption. Fresh water usage for power generation and other cooling applications is well known and accounts for 40% of total freshwater withdrawal in the U. S[1]. A significant amount of energy is embedded in the consumption of water for conveyance, treatment and distribution of water. Waste water treatment plants also consume a significant amount of energy. For example, water distribution systems and water treatment plants consume 1.3MWh and 0.5MWh[2], respectively, for every million gallons of water processed. Water consumption in data centers is often overlooked due to low cost impact compared to energy and other consumables. With the current trend towards local onsite generation[3], the role of water in data centers is more crucial than ever. Apart from actual water consumption, the impact of embedded energy in water is only beginning to be considered in water end-use analyses conducted by major utilities[4]. From a data center end-use perspective, water usage can be characterized as direct, for cooling tower operation, and indirect, for power generation to operate the IT equipment and cooling infrastructure[5]. In the past, authors have proposed and implemented metrics to evaluate direct and indirect water usage using an energy-based metric. These metrics allow assessment of water consumption at various power consumption levels in the IT infrastructure and enable comparison with other energy efficiency metrics within a data center or among several data centers[6]. Water consumption in data centers is a function of power demand, outside air temperature and water quality. While power demand affects both direct and indirect water consumption, water quality and outside air conditions affect direct water consumption. Water from data center infrastructure is directly discharged in various forms such as water vapor and effluent from cooling towers. Classification of direct water consumption is one of the first steps towards optimization of water usage. Subsequently, data center processes can be managed to reduce water intake and discharge. In this paper, we analyze water consumption from data center cooling towers and propose techniques to reuse and reduce water in the data center.

Copyright © 2010 by ASME
Topics: Data centers , Water



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