Feeds

Google cools data center with bathtubs, dishwashers

No, not toilets or urinals – yet

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Google has partnered with a local water-treatment utility to cool a massive data center using greywater – that's water recycled from residential bathtubs, showers, washing machines, and the like.

The data center in question is located in Douglas County, Georgia – that's the Georgia of Sherman's March to the Sea, not the Georgia of the Rose Revolution.

When it was first constructed in 2007, explains the data center's facilities manager Jim Brown in a blog post, the center's evaporative cooling system used the same drinking water that was also supplied to local residents.

"But we soon realized that the water we used didn't need to be clean enough to drink," Brown writes. "So we talked to the Douglasville-Douglas County Water and Sewer Authority (known locally as the WSA) about setting up a system that uses reuse water – also known as grey- or recycled water – in our cooling infrastructure."

Plumbing in Google's Douglas County, Georgia, data center

The oh-so-googley plumbing in the Douglas County data center

With the cooperation of the WSA, Google tapped into that utility's water-treatment plant to suck away around 30 per cent of greywater that would otherwise be dumped into the nearby Chattahoochee River, aka "The Hooch".

That water is first sent through a Google-built sidestream treatment plant, which sterilizes, filters, and clorinates it, cleaning it just enough for it to be used in the data center's evaporative cooling towers.

The water that doesn't evaporate away during that process is then further purified in Google's on-premises Effluent Treatment Plant. "There, we treat the water once again to disinfect it," Brown writes, "remove mineral solids and send it back out to the Chattahoochee – clean, clear and safe."

The system allows Google to use recycled water for a full 100 per cent of its plant-cooling needs, and the water that ends up in The Hootch is cleaner than it would have been if it had never been taken from the WSA's treatment stream, Google says.

Schematic of Google's Douglas County, Georgia, cooling-water treatment system

Google's investment is not only environmentally friendly, but also financially prudent (click to enlarge)

As WSA executive director Peter Frost notes in a video explaining the process, "With them using the waste stream, we were able to retain water in our reservoir. That's particularly important in the drought period, the summer months, when there is extra stress placed on our system."

Not only does the use of greywater help the WSA and the river, it makes smart business sense for Google as well, seeing as how it doesn't need to compete for fresh, drinkable water with other businesses and residents during drought periods – there should always be enough grey water available.

Note that the water used in this process is greywater, not sewage, also known as blackwater. That luscious liquor, the output from toilets and urinals, still goes through the full panoply of the WSA's sewage-treatment services.

As of today, there's plenty of greywater in Douglas County for Google's use. In the distant, dry, digital future, however, during drought times when the mantra is "if it's yellow, let it mellow; if it's brown, flush it down", it's not at all unlikely that purified piss might be cooling your Google search for Thomas Crapper. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Docker's app containers are coming to Windows Server, says Microsoft
MS chases app deployment speeds already enjoyed by Linux devs
Intel, Cisco and co reveal PLANS to keep tabs on WORLD'S MACHINES
Connecting everything to everything... Er, good idea?
SDI wars: WTF is software defined infrastructure?
This time we play for ALL the marbles
'Urika': Cray unveils new 1,500-core big data crunching monster
6TB of DRAM, 38TB of SSD flash and 120TB of disk storage
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
Windows 10: Forget Cloudobile, put Security and Privacy First
But - dammit - It would be insane to say 'don't collect, because NSA'
Oracle hires former SAP exec for cloudy push
'We know Larry said cloud was gibberish, and insane, and idiotic, but...'
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.