UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Geothermal cooling for data centers Chanduri, Sai Ram


Although geothermal energy is widely used for residential and commercial air-conditioning, there has not been much research done to employ geothermal energy and for data center (DC) cooling. Due to the absence of heating loop and a continuous need for cooling the servers, it has proven difficult to develop a DC cooling system which operates solely on geothermal heat exchange. The primary objective of this research was to investigate the thermal feasibility of developing an environment friendly geo-exchange cooling solution for data centers with smaller capacities. The cooling system detailed in this thesis discusses the underground as a heat sink, and the transfer of heat from the data server room to the underground by means of air-water heat exchange. After developing a few geothermal well designs, a numerical model was designed to examine the heat transfer between the rejected hot DC water and the cold well water. The thermal performance of the geothermal well is then analyzed under steady-state and transient conditions. An analytical approach was used to investigate the thermal behavior of the well under steady-state conditions, whereas both analytical and numerical approaches were used to study the heat transfer characteristics under transient conditions. Numerical simulations and heat transfer calculations were done to establish the trends of heat transfer rate with various sizing parameters of the well. These analyses suggest that the well can be operated only under transient conditions and hence, a multiple-well model is devised and the heat transfer calculations are performed for the same using analytical approach. The theoretical and numerical analyses thus conducted were used to infer the feasibility of the developed cooling solution.

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