A joint UK and Malaysian consortium has been awarded a Newton Fund grant to develop the next generation of green data centres.
As the global population increases and the internet becomes more essential to the functioning of everyday life, from e-commerce, to access to financial services and communications, demand for data is growing rapidly.
Data centres are key to handling that demand and global capacity is set to increase significantly. But they are also large consumers of energy. Depending on how that energy is generated, data centres can indirectly be responsible for substantial emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants that impact urban air quality.
One of the core challenges facing data centres is to maintain cooling to ensure that servers do not overheat, and this can consume up to 50 per cent of the total energy used in the facility.
This project, which brings together innovative technologies developed in Malaysia and the UK, aims to improve the sustainability of date centres, by changing the way they are cooled. It is hoped that the research could reduce energy consumption by up to 50%, improve energy security and reduce localised emissions caused by diesel powered backup generators.
The consortium is made up of Dearman, the clean cold technology company, Green Data Center LLP, Heriot-Watt University and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.
As part of the project, an innovative ‘next generation green data centre’ will be established in the Klang Valley (Malaysia). It will feature cutting-edge liquid submersion cooling technologies introduced by Green Data Center alongside a Dearman Engine, which will harness expansion of liquid nitrogen to provide zero-emission back up power and cooling.
Heriot-Watt University will provide systems integration and sustainability analysis to ensure that the technologies deliver maximum environmental benefit in addressing a critical socio-economic urban development challenge. Universiti Teknologi Malaysia will support the project by developing a sustainable computing model to assist the management of the technology.
The project has been awarded backing from the UK’s Newton Fund, which aims to use science and innovation to promote economic development and social welfare to address the well-being of communities.
Discussing the project, Toby Peters, Founder and CEO of Dearman said: “Data is at the heart of the modern world. From our social lives, to global finance, to industrial processes and logistics, effective management of data is essential to support our economy and to achieve development around the world. But, although people may not realise it, online activity has a considerable energy requirement and an enormous environmental footprint. This project, which brings together world class innovation from the UK and Malaysia, has the potential to revolutionise the way that data centres are cooled and therefore the energy they require. The research could represent an important step towards making the digital world a much greener place to interact, to share information and to do business.”
“We believe next generation data centres should be energy rational, low cost and ultra-dependable.” pointed out Matthew Rajendra, CEO and Founder of Green Data Center LLP. “This game changing project with our consortium partners will empower the team to deliver a holistic solution to green data centres globally.” he added.
Mercedes Maroto-Valer, Director of the Energy Academy at Heriot-Watt University commented ‘This is a very exciting multidisciplinary project that will have a demonstrable impact in addressing sustainable development goals and creating new market opportunities in green data centres worldwide.’
“This project will create a replicable and commercially viable approach to sustainable computing for reconciling urbanisation with environmental risk and climate change globally. We at UTM are proud to be part of this collaboration that will lead to significant social impact through improved urban air quality, enabling sustainable connectivity, and the creation of a green technology commercialisation hub in Malaysia.” commented Professor Dr. Jalil Ali who is project lead at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.