Nautilus Data Technologies

Nautilus Data Center Keeps Cool During California Heat Wave

The month of September brought all-time record heat temperatures to the state of California. With thermometers ringing in as high as 116F (46.7C) in Sacramento, the state’s capital, the grid is under strain, and even reports of Twitter shutting down made their way to the headlines. But it’s not just California – in July, the UK heatwave shut down Google and Oracle data centers.

In Stockton, CA, we saw the mercury tick up to the highest temperature ever recorded at 115 °F on September 6, 2022. In the spirit of transparency (one of our four core values), we wanted to let you know how our data center performed with such grueling temps.

Let’s evaluate the hottest part of this month

September 1 through 9. The average high came in at 107.8°F (42°C). With temperatures like that, it’s easy to understand why a traditional cooling system may not be able to keep up.

How did the Nautilus Stockton Data Center do?

Because of how our system works – using our water-cooling technology – we kept our data center up, running, and functioning as it should. We ran the data center exactly the same, and ambient temperatures averaged out at 82.9°F for that same time period (September 1-9), nearly 7° under the 89.6°F ASHRAE allowable standards.

But doesn’t the water get hot? 

We heard this question a few times and want to clear it up. Because the system is extracting water from a deeper depth, short-term temperature fluctuations in the environment have little impact on the water’s temperature coming into the facility. The reason the water isn’t impacted is the thermal absorption properties of water, the water flow/mixing rates, evaporative cooling, heat energy transfer to the underlying soil, and the fact that even when it is really hot during the day, it does cool down at night. Let’s take a look at how September’s water temperatures so far compared with June, July, and August:

And for your peace of mind, we like to operate with “environmental awesomeness” – a term one of our most recent customers coined. The Nautilus team worked collaboratively with federal, state, and local professionals responsible for environmental stewardship to secure all regulatory approvals needed to completely protect wildlife – we do this through extensive filtration measures, specialty screen intakes, and keeping the water clean from any additives.

Want to be a part of the solution? 

In California alone, we calculated the estimated water savings achieved from a statewide deployment of our water-cooling technology could total 14.83 million gallons per day.

We calculated this number with the approximate number of MWs in the state and then the newest data from the 2021 report from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s estimate of the US data center’s direct onsite water consumption. We are keeping in mind this is an estimate that could be lower is there was a significant percent of data centers’ utilizing systems such as a fluid cooler or condenser with DX refrigerant.

1300 MW in CA[1] x 475.5 gallons per MW per hour[2] = 618,150 gallons per hour // 14.83 million gallons per day

And not to downplay direct water usage, but according to research, only one-fourth of the volumetric water footprint of data centers is due to onsite water usage.

Yet, more than 40% of the water scarcity footprint is attributed to direct water consumption. The direct water consumption of data centers, which occurs near the data center location, is higher in areas with less available water compared to its indirect water consumption. [2]

While the Eastern US faces little to no water stress on average, here in the Western US (CA) many of the watersheds exhibit high levels of water stress, which is exacerbated by data centers’ direct and indirect water demands.

Interested in a data center that doesn’t cause more water stress? Let’s talk.

[1] 451 Data center knowledgebase

[2] 1.8 liters of water per kWh > 1800 liters of water per MWh (475.5 gallons per MWh)

(LBNL report estimated that US data centers’s direct onsite water consumption is around 1.8 liters of water per kWh)

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