Before modern refrigeration technology was available, people used huge blocks of ice for cooling and food preservation. Air conditioning replaced this practice many years ago, but Google thinks it’s worth a second look. The search engine giant will use ice to cool its new $700 million data centers in Taiwan, saving both energy and money.
The process is known as “thermal storage” and it reduces energy bills by allowing companies to run air conditioning systems at night, when power rates are cheaper.
A typical energy storage system, notes Katie Fehrenbacher at GigaOm, is literally a giant ice-maker that sits next to a conventional air conditioning system. The unit freezes 450 gallons of water overnight, creating a giant ice block that acts like a“battery” of cold. The ice can then be used in place of a conventional A/C compressor for at least 6 hours on the following day. Using a thermal storage system like this also helps reduce demand on the electricity grid, which is notoriously unreliable in Asia during the summer months.
“We’re very excited to be building this data center in Taiwan,” said Lee-Feng Chien, Managing Director, Google Taiwan. “We’re working as fast as we can to start bringing it online by the second half of 2013, so we can keep up with the rapid growth in capacity demand across the region, and to hire the team of around 25 full time Googlers that will manage the facility when it’s fully operational.
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