Google Uses Waste Water To Cool Data Centers

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The Atlanta Google data center is utilizing a “sidestream” treatment plant that uses grey water rather than potable water for cooling.

Originally built in 1997, the Google data center uses an innovative evaporative cooling process which is 50 percent more efficient than standard mechanical chillers. Initially using potable water for the data center, Google decided to greatly reduce it’s impact on the environment by recycling grey water rather than wasting drinkable water. Recently local media and officials were provided a tour of the Douglas County Google treatment plant.

The Google sidestream plant uses 30 percent of the grey water that would otherwise head back to the Chattahoochee River. The plant cleans the water to a level appropriate for the cooling process. Any water that is not evaporated in the process is then sent to a second, effluent plant before being sent back to the Chattahoochee, ensuring clean and safe water is being returned to the ecosystem after being used for the cooling process.

A typical data center can use hundreds of thousands of gallons of water per day as part of the evaporative cooling process. As a former resident of Atlanta, GA I’m all too familiar with the recent droughts, population growth and battles over water resources. This new approach alleviates strain on the municipal reservoir and does provide some benefits, but it should be noted that their is still an impact on the river’s flow and ecosystem.

Article by Karen MacKay, appearing courtesy Crisp Green.

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Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.

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