The Key to Greener Data Centres

The Key to Greener Data Centres

As cities become smarter, growing digitalisation is leading to a massive market for data centres worldwide. As the race to capture and process ever-increasing volumes of data to enable useful real-time insights and decision-making continues, it is exacting a heavy toll on the environment. This has curtailed the data centre industry’s growth around the world, including in Singapore.

Data centres’ perennial challenge 

For computing equipment in data centres to operate optimally, data centres need to maintain cool temperatures, which today is achieved largely by conventional chiller systems. However, the process of cooling in conventional systems is highly resource intensive, requiring large amounts of water and electricity to power energy-hungry compressors or refrigerants.

Today, about 40% of a data centre’s electricity usage goes to cooling the facility. The International Energy Agency estimates that the data centre industry currently consumes around 1% of the world’s electricity, which could reach double digits by 2030. In Singapore, data centres made up 7% of the country’s energy usage in 2020 and this is expected to grow to 12% by 2030 if no mitigating actions are taken.

In addition, data centres emit large amounts of heat into the surroundings due to the limitations of chiller systems. In fact, for every 1 megawatt of heat that chiller systems remove from data centres, another 1.2 megawatt of heat is actually ejected into the environment. This contributes to Urban Heat Island (UHI) Effect, a phenomenon where urban areas, which are more built-up and densely populated, are warmer than rural areas.

When a popular solution adds to the soaring temperature woes it’s meant to address and exacerbate unsustainable cooling, there is an urgent market need for ready cooling solutions that are easily deployed and can remove the heat efficiently, effectively and economically. 

The revolutionary Airbitat DC Cooling System

With its promise of achieving over 20% in energy savings for tropical data centre cooling and payback in under three years, ST Engineering’s Airbitat DC Cooling System is a breakthrough innovation that cools high-performing data centres.

A form of liquid cooling, it uses multi-stage cold water generation to produce cold water for data centre use. Combined with existing chiller systems, the Airbitat DC Cooling System enables data centres in tropical environments to reach a targeted Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) of 1.3 or better, which is supported by live system data and backed by eight years of engineering, R&D and its patented evaporative cooling technology. The PUE is a ratio that describes how energy efficient data centres are. It is calculated by dividing the total amount of energy used by a facility, with the amount of energy delivered to its computing equipment, with the ideal PUE being 1.0. In Singapore, this performance represents a significant improvement over current regulatory requirements for data centres and positions it to meet more stringent standards for future data centres.

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How it works

By using the natural process of evaporation that’s built upon the Reevac® Deep Cooling technology – a patented evaporative cooling technology that was first developed for its Airbitat coolers - the Airbitat DC Cooling System pre-cools the hot return air in the data hall to reduce over 40% of the heat load from the chiller system.

This significantly reduces the overall energy requirements for cooling by more than 20%, translating to annual energy savings of about $104 per kW[1] of heat load. In addition, the Airbitat DC Cooling System does not generate waste heat into the environment as it does not use compressors nor refrigerants. It also has lower water consumption requirements compared to conventional water-cooled chiller systems. 

Besides being sustainable to operate, the Airbitat DC Cooling System offers clear advantages that ultimately translate to significant cost savings for data centre operators:

  • Unparalleled cooling performance

Even in tropical climates that are challenging to cool due to high heat and high humidity levels, the Airbitat DC Cooling System can achieve unparalleled cooling performance, creating cold water at, or below wet bulb temperature[2] i.e. as low as 26°C. This is about 3 to 5 degrees lower than conventional evaporative cooling.

  • Agility to work under diverse conditions and requirements

While the Airbitat DC Cooling System is engineered to cool data centres effectively in all kinds of climate conditions, it achieves the highest electricity and water savings in hot and low-humidity conditions. It has smart controls that detect ambient psychrometric conditions and automatically adjusts its cooling modes in real-time for consistent energy-efficient cooling. Furthermore, its modular design and ability to scale accommodate different data centre cooling requirements, structural and layout constraints, making it easy to integrate into existing and new data centres.

The Airbitat DC Cooling System is an innovation by ST Engineering’s Urban Solutions team, which created the award-winning range of Airbitat coolers. Thanks to eight years of R&D on sustainable cooling technology as well as extensive engineering and field experience, the team was able to accelerate product development. In all, it took the team about 12 months from concept to system design, validation and testing to develop the Airbitat DC Cooling System.

Learn more about our Airbitat DC Cooling System.

[1] Based on electricity tariff rate of $0.299/kwh.  

[2] Wet bulb temperature is the lowest temperature to which air can be cooled by the evaporation of water into the air at a constant pressure.