Feeds

Google cools data center with bathtubs, dishwashers

No, not toilets or urinals – yet

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
The DRUGSTORES DON'T WORK, CVS makes IT WORSE ... for Apple Pay
Goog Wallet apparently also spurned in NFC lockdown
Desktop Linux users beware: the boss thinks you need to be managed
VMware reveals VDI for Linux desktops plan, plus China lab to do the development
IBM, backing away from hardware? NEVER!
Don't be so sure, so-surers
Hey - who wants 4.8 TERABYTES almost AS FAST AS MEMORY?
China's Memblaze says they've got it in PCIe. Yow
Microsoft brings the CLOUD that GOES ON FOREVER
Sky's the limit with unrestricted space in the cloud
This time it's SO REAL: Overcoming the open-source orgasm myth with TODO
If the web giants need it to work, hey, maybe it'll work
'ANYTHING BUT STABLE' Netflix suffers BIG Europe-wide outage
Friday night LIVE? Nope. The only thing streaming are tears down my face
Google roolz! Nest buys Revolv, KILLS new sales of home hub
Take my temperature, I'm feeling a little bit dizzy
Storage array giants can use Azure to evacuate their back ends
Site Recovery can help to move snapshots around
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Mitigating web security risk with SSL certificates
Web-based systems are essential tools for running business processes and delivering services to customers.