British startup Deep Green has developed a system that captures waste heat from cloud data centers and uses it to heat… swimming pools. Dubbed the ‘digital water heater’, the technology has been successfully installed at Exmouth Leisure Center in Devon and is due to be rolled out to spas in Bristol and Manchester in the coming weeks.
The project covers installed 12 servers that can perform a range of cloud services. The servers for equipped with “immersion cooling” technology, in which the computing array is immersed in mineral oil, which captures about 96 percent of the heat generated by the servers. The heated oil is then fed into a heat exchanger, which in turn heats the water in the pool. This reduces the need to use a gas boiler in the spa.
The excess heat is donated to the swimming complex and is expected to reduce fuel needs for water heating by 62%. This should save the spa over £20,000 a year and reduce carbon emissions by 25.8 tonnes.
There are already early indications of cost savings on energy bills, says Peter Gilpin, chief executive of LED Community Leisure, which runs Exmouth Leisure Centre. “The innovative technology will dramatically reduce our energy bills and carbon footprint, meaning we will continue to be a key asset to the local community. I’m sure this will transform leisure centers up and down the country for the better,” shares the manager.
This is good news against the background of the overall energy crisis, which has recently increased the bills of all businesses, especially those that need a lot of heating. In addition to swimming pools and spas, the technology could also be useful in other businesses with a constant demand for thermal energy such as bakeries, distilleries, laundries and apartment blocks.
“Data is critical to modern society and the demand for data centers is growing exponentially,” said Mark Bjornsgaard, CEO of Deep Green. “However, this comes at a price. Current data center infrastructure is inefficient, uses a huge amount of energy and generates a huge amount of waste heat. On the other hand, there are many businesses that need heat and are suffering because of rising energy bills.”
The idea of the “digital water heater” is interesting because it implies the relocation of data centers from industrial areas to the heart of cities. Still, it is worth considering because, according to calculations based on the implemented project, about 30 percent of all industrial and commercial heat needs can be provided by this technology.