Images of climate innovation

Category: Sustainable world

Masters of cooling!

What's this about?

Refining the cooling technology that keeps our hi-tech society working smoothly, the computer data centres that help maintain our technology-dependent societies need to be kept cool. Current systems are power-hungry and responsible for growing levels of carbon emissions. Hull's new super performance dewpoint cooling system could drastically reduce those power needs and bring about a significant reduction in the carbon footprint of computing.

A scientist works in a laboratory

More detail about the research

Over the previous 15 years, the Centre for Sustainable Energy Technologies, in the University of Hull's Energy & Environment Institute, has developed and refined low energy cooling technology. Their super performance dew point cooler is based on existing technology that makes use of water evaporation to cool air and is often used in Data Centres in the UK and worldwide.

The research teamwork to solve problems associated with traditional evaporative coolers their large size, high cost, and climate dependency which currently prevent their extensive usage in Building and Data Centre cooling. By applying a number of refinements to the system, the research team have made a significant leap forward in energy performance, leading to savings in electricity consumption of 90% compared to traditional mechanical cooling systems, and 50% against evaporative cooling systems.

These energy savings correspond to equivalent reductions in carbon emissions. Data Centres are a key feature of modern-day Information Technology (IT) infrastructure. Annual electricity usage in UK and EU Data Centres is comparable to that of whole nations at 40TWh and 150TWh respectively, of which 30%-40% is used to operate the Data Centres cooling systems. If this experimental dewpoint cooling technology was applied to just 5% of Data Centres by 2026, the energy saving is estimated at 709GWh per year, which would lead to an annual reduction in carbon emissions of 200,000 tons.

Growth in cloud computing, Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems, social media, even 'mining' for cryptocurrency are all associated with growing energy usage and carbon emissions. Within the next ten years, around 4,000 new Data Centres will be developed within the EU and a further 1,000 in the UK. Adoption of this energy-efficient cooling technology is an important tool to help society meet its zero carbon ambitions.

Entrant: Zishang Zhu , University of Hull

Copyright: Neil Holmes

Funding: BEIS IEEA Fund (Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Industrial Energy Efficiency Accelerator); European Commission - Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions.