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NREL Uses Asetek RackCDU for World’s Most Energy Efficient Data Center

Linda Hardesty

The US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) will install Asetek’s RackCDU warm-water, liquid-cooling system as a retrofit to NREL’s Skynet high performance computing center (HPC) cluster.

As part of this liquid-cooling retrofit, the cluster will be relocated into the new data center at the Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) in Golden, Colo., which is designed to be the most energy efficient data center in the world, with a power usage effectiveness (PUE) of 1.06.

The data center at NREL’s ESIF will use 75F-liquid-cooling to operate servers and to recover waste-heat for use as the primary heat source for the building’s offices and labs. The higher liquid temperatures used by Asetek’s RackCDU (105F) will improve waste-heat recovery and reduce water consumption for the data center.

Because of RackCDU’s design, these performance improvements will be achieved without the need for a customized server design. The system will be installed as a drop-in retrofit to existing air-cooled servers and racks.

The warm-water cooling system at NREL’s data center is an innovative concept compared to traditional computer systems in which a mechanical chiller outside delivers cold water into the data center and air-conditioning units blow cold air under a raised floor to keep computer components from overheating.

By retrofitting an existing air-cooled HPC cluster with RackCDU, NREL will reduce the cooling energy required to operate this system, reduce water usage in the cooling system and increase the server density within the cluster, reducing floor-space and rack infrastructure requirements.



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