Cool your data center with seawater?

Google's Hamina data center

Google (GOOG) is busy putting the finishing touches to its Finnish data center. Previous designs have driven up the cooling efficiency to new heights, but this one adds a major new twist: Seawater cooling -- or SWAC (SeaWater Air Conditioning). Is this an idea whose time has come? Let's see, in The Long View...

Google claims the idea is "Unique ... it's never been done before." The company also says the technique will make the Hamina facility one of its most efficient data centers. (Be sure to check out the videos at the bottom of this page. You'll get to see the data center, some construction footage, and the obligatory HVAC-porn.)

So how about your next data center? Seawater cooling saves money and reduces your CO2 emissions. It reduces your electricity bill and improves your PUE. Sounds great, right? But it's not as simple as it sounds. And if you're not careful, you can replace one damaging environmental impact with another. 

Read on to discover more...

So what's the big idea? Well, the data center is built in a place called Summa, in Finland, right on the Baltic Sea coast. Google draws in cold seawater and uses it to draw heat from the server racks. Sounds simple, but there are several wrinkles to iron out:

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