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Utah Business

New technologies are making waterless data centers a thing, which is great for areas of extreme drought, like Utah.

This data center doesn’t need water

Wherever technology jobs rise, data centers are sure to follow. At the time of this writing, Utah’s tech sector includes nearly 8,200 businesses and brings $20.1 billion to the state’s economy. While Utah’s low humidity and tax incentives pose the state as a prime location for data centers, they need lots of something Utah doesn’t have—water. Will Utah have to choose between sustainable water usage and building a thriving tech community to rival the likes of San Francisco or Seattle? 

The tech innovators at Aligned Energy hope to have the answer. Since 2013, Aligned has built data centers all over the country that utilize innovative cooling technology to significantly reduce energy and water consumption. According to an August press release, the newest Aligned Energy data center will open its second location in the Salt Lake City area in late 2021. And for a state that seems to be perpetually in a condition of drought, Aligned Energy’s waterless cooling technology couldn’t be more necessary.  

“Rather than pushing cold air into the data hall, our patented and award-winning data center cooling technology removes heat instead,” the Aligned Energy website reads. “Our Delta Cube (Delta³) Arrays capture and remove heat at its source, resulting in a hyper-scalable and ultra-efficient environment that dynamically adapts to your IT loads.” 

Delta³ uses 85 percent less water and 80 percent less energy than traditional cooling methods. Alternatively, consider the Utah Data Center: at 1.5 million square feet, it was one of the largest data centers in the world when it opened in 2014. To prevent overheating, the Utah Data Center requires roughly 1.7 million gallons of water per day—the equivalent of the daily water usage of 6,000-7,000 individuals. 

“The traditional approach to cooling a data center was pushing hot air into the cold aisles. Unfortunately, this is neither efficient nor environmentally friendly,” says Aligned Energy CEO Andrew Schaap. “Delta³ can be combined with a state-of-the-art waterless heat rejection system to deliver meaningful efficiency enhancements across rising rack densities and next-generation workloads for maximum flexibility and adaptability, regardless of altitude or geographical climate zone.” 

While businesses in every industry must ask themselves whether or not their product can scale, data centers must be especially ready to answer this question. Rapid evolution is an integral part of the tech world, which requires constant data center infrastructure upgrades. As populations grow, businesses move into an area. As new data-heavy tech arrives on the scene, data centers must update their infrastructure to increase their bandwidth. 

Luckily, the cooling technology of the Delta³ allows data centers to increase bandwidth without reconfiguring infrastructure. Traditionally, data centers had to invest large amounts of money to improve cooling systems as the demand for more servers and more bandwidth rose. Aligned Energy’s technology allows for growth without significant reconfiguration and typically without increasing the footprint of the data center. 

“We have employed a modular approach when it comes to our cooling technology, as well as the rest of our vendor-managed inventory (prefabricated, factory-built, and tested power and cooling equipment),” Schaap says. “This ensures a plug-and-play model that customers can expand on-demand with, that is always ready for immediate deployment.” 

As Utah’s population grows, so will its need for both affordable water and affordable data bandwidth. Thanks to Aligned, those needs will no longer conflict. And Aligned Energy’s innovative cooling technology isn’t just crucial for sustainability—it also allows businesses to decrease operational costs. “We have taken water out of the equation entirely, and we do not need to expend the energy to utilize it for cooling,” Schaap says. “The development satisfies our customer’s requirements for water conservation and sustainability while still delivering industry-leading power usage effectiveness.”