It’s easy to think of the Internet as something that’s just “out there” in cyberspace, that doesn’t effect the physical world in any tangible way. In 2009, however, it was estimated that Internet data centers worldwide consumed about 2% of global electricity production. Not only did most of that electricity undoubtedly come from non-green sources, but it also cost the global economy approximately 30 billion US dollars. Much of the electricity was needed to power the data centers’ forced air cooling systems, that keep the servers from overheating. Now, researchers from IBM Zurich and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH) have devised a much more efficient method for cooling the steamy Internet – they use hot water.
Liquid cooling is by nature a much more effective cooling method, as the heat capacity of water is over 4,000 times that of air. Also, once the heat is transferred to the water, it can be handled more efficiently. In IBM/ETH’s model, the server-heated water could even go on to provide heat for the local community.