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Title: Characterizing Data Center Cooling System Water Stress in the United States
Massive data center (DC) energy demands lead to water consumption concerns. This study quantifies on-site and off-site DC water consumption and its holistic impact on regional water availability. This study proposes a new DC sustainability metrics, Water Scarcity Usage Effectiveness (WSUE), that captures the holistic impacts of water consumption on regional water availability by considering electricity and water source locations and their associated water scarcity. We examine the water consumption of various DC cooling systems by tracking on-site water consumption along with the direct and indirect water transfers associated with electricity transmission at the contiguous U.S. balancing authority (BA) level. This study then applies the WSUE metric for different DC cooling systems and locations to compare the holistic water stress impact by large on-site water consuming systems (e.g., via cooling towers) versus systems with higher electrical consumption and lower on-site water consumption such as the conventional use of computer room air conditioner (CRAC) units. Results suggest that WSUE is strongly dependent on location, and a water-intensive cooling solution could result in a lower WSUE than a solution requiring no or less on-site water consumption. The use of the WSUE metric aids in DC siting decisions and DC cooling system design from a sustainability point of view.  more » « less
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ASHRAE Annual Conference papers
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National Science Foundation
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