Startup's building underwater date centres

Startup's building underwater date centres

Subsea Cloud decided to use a very simple method to remove a large amount of heat from the data centres. Instead of placing them on land, they will be placed under the oceans.

The idea sounds almost simple. However, according to the founders of the launch, this ocean cooling system saves a lot of energy. "We reduce energy consumption and emissions by 40%," they say on their website. By sinking data processing centres, otherwise called "date centres", into the ocean, entrepreneurs use the natural cooling power of seawater. Other projects of this type have already been established around the world, but the process is not very advanced.

This is due to the fact that data processing centres are devices that generate a lot of heat. In concrete terms, they are a network of computers and computer storage facilities. They are used very often: websites, applications and companies that have to process a lot of data. In fact, they are part of our daily lives: even when you send a simple e-mail, depending on the e-mail service you use, they are likely to be stored in a data centre. But complex cooling systems in these data processing centres account for a large part of the energy they consume.

By sinking them into the ocean, Subsea Cloud hopes to reduce both the economic and environmental costs associated with these data monsters. "The construction and extension of cables on land are not available in the underwater environment, which further reduces costs."

For this purpose, the company has developed "capsules" to store servers. These capsules are about the size of a sea container, and each of them can contain 16 series of servers, equivalent to 800 computers. The capsules are modular, meaning that several capsules, up to hundreds, can be collected to create very large data centres.

Specifically, these modules are loaded into a liquid similar to mineral oil, which is non-conductive; the excess heat is transferred to this liquid and then to the walls of the module, which are themselves in direct contact with seawater; thus, the heat is dispersed in the ocean without the need for an electric cooling system or any special products.

However, the fact that all this heat is scattered in the water may cause doubts about its safety for underwater life. On the other hand, the launcher argues that each module placed in the water can prevent up to 750 tons of carbon per year. They believe that this has a positive effect on global warming, despite its thermal footprint in the oceans. "Our heat footprint is small because of the heat content of liquids. We are always open to cooperation with environmental groups to gain their confidence and to prove our benefits to the environment and the planet."

The first test of the project was carried out at a depth of 3,000 metres; the infrastructure does not have to be located at this depth, but the idea was to prove the strength and reliability of the device. In Washington, U.S.A., the module was also loaded to a depth of nine metres. The project includes about 100 modules that will perform routine operations: data storage and computation. Two other projects are planned: one in the Gulf of Mexico and one in the North Sea.