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Using Ice (Yes, Ice) to Cool Your Data Center.

by on August 24, 2010

A consortium of utilities in California is launching a program to install in buildings a device that produce ice at night, then use the ice to cool the edifices during the day.

Ice-cube The units made by Ice Energy, of Windsor, CO, use a high-efficiency compressor to freeze 450 gallons of water after business hours. At around noon during the day, the hardware shuts off a building’s air conditioning system for six-hours. During that time, the unit streams coolant from the melting ice to an evaporator coil in the structure’s blowers. Once the ice is melted, the building’s air conditioning system is brought back online. Ice Energy maintains the system can reduce a structure’s energy consumption during peak hours by 95 percent.

Not only can the cooling units save money, but they’re good for the environment, too. They reduce peak-time loads. Since generation facilities used to handle that load are typically older and less efficient, deploying devices that operate during off-peak hours means their load will be handled by more efficient first line equipment. What’s more, by moving the power at night when power lines are cooler also increases delivery efficiency.

There’s another bonus for locales like Glendale, Calif., where the program is being launched. The wind picks up after sunset. That allows the devices to take more advantage of wind generated electricity and could even build demand for the technology.

Up to recently, ice coolers have been limited to one-off units built into a building’s design. Modular systems began to enter the market at around $15,000, but those prices have steadily declined. Today,┬áice cooling solutions can be purchased for as low as $5000.

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