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GCN : February 2014
In a move anticipated to save money and mitigate the environmental impact of its new Maryland-based data center, the National Security Agency will be using wastewater to cool its servers at the facility in Fort Meade, Md. NSA will spend $40 million to build a pumping station at the data center, which will include 70,000 square feet of computer space. Up to ve million gallons a day of treated wastewater, also known as graywater, will be used for cooling systems at the data center, due to open in 2016, according the Baltimore Sun. Normally the wastewater would be dumped into the Little Patuxent River. Harvey Davis, director of installa- tion and logistics at the NSA, said the arrangement is "dramatically bene cial for the taxpayers and also really good for the ecosystem," the newspaper reported. The alternative would be using tap water or well water to cool the comput- ers, a far more expensive option that would have added stress to a local aquifer, said Davis. Using wastewater reduces the amount of treated water sent into the Chesapeake Bay ecosys- tem. Utility and energy provider ComEd said cooling equipment used to remove heat in data centers accounts for near- ly 45 percent of a data center's energy costs. Reducing those costs bene ts not only the data center operator but also the local com- munities. According to an article in the journal WaterWorld, recycled water costs are usually 35 to 55 percent of a municipality's fresh water costs, which increase every year. Meanwhile, other agencies are using alternative methods to reduce water consumption in data centers. The De- partment of Energy's National Renew- able Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the Department of Defense are using "hot water" to cool servers. At NREL's Energy Systems Integration Facility in Golden, Colo., 75-degree water will be used to cool servers and heat building of ce space and laboratories. The higher temperature water improves waste-heat recovery and reduces water consump- tion in the data center, according to the website Data Center Knowledge. This year will herald changes in data centers thast will also lower cooling costs. Newly built data centers will be smaller in size and in some cases may appear to shrink to almost nothing. These new data centers will have less metal on all system housings, use curtains instead of walls and seal off unused sections of the data center so energy isn't wasted trying to cool empty space. In some cases, the walls will disappear altogeth- er, even the exterior ones. There will also be a move toward smaller, modular data centers that can be deployed quickly almost anywhere. The military has been using, and re ning, this con- cept for some time because it needs to rapidly deploy mobile data centers. But it's still a new concept for most civilian agencies. In an old school approach, the En- ergy Department's Berkeley Computing Lab is planning to use outside air to cool down servers. Scientists estimate the outside air can be used to cool computers 90 percent of the time. • NSA data center to be cooled by wastewater BY KATHLEEN HICKEY [BrieFing] 12 GCN FEBRUARY 2014 • GCN.COM As dif cult scal times have senior Defense Department of cials struggling with balancing budget cuts, sequestra- tion, furloughs and force-shaping initia- tives, the Air Force Technical Applica- tions Center is offering some creative solutions of its own. AFTAC com- mander Col. Chris Worley assembled a team of technicians and scientists in an innovation lab that spends 10 percent of its time nding creative solutions for Air Force problems. One of the lab's achievements involves the use of 3-D printers, which can help equip the center's overseas detachments with essential materials. The printers have allowed machine repairs faster and cheaper by reducing the supply chain. They have eliminated the need to place an order for a part and paying to have it shipped. In a second success story, AFTAC's machine shop personnel teamed with fellow seismologists and computer technicians to systemize requirements for short-period seismometers. The project will allow the center to limit its dependence on outside vendors by modernizing the equipment in its own shop. The innovation lab has saved the center $1 million so far. Worley said he wants AFTAC link up with the Air Force Research Lab in the future to help advance mission capabilities. • 'Innovation lab' applies brain power to Air Force problems BY MICHAEL CIPRIANO Using tap water to cool the computers is far more expensive and would have added stress to the local aquifer.