Google flushing heat from Georgia data center, literally

Summary:The Web services giant has partnered with a local water utility to use recycled water from showers and toilets as the source for its cooling pipes.

There's toilet water (the old-fangled word for some perfumes) and then there's toilet water (the stuff that circles the bowl when you flush). According to a Wired magazine report, the latter sort is finding a second life at a Google data center in Georgia, where it is being used to keep things cool.

The company is working with the Douglasville-Douglas County Water and Sewer Authority to pump recycled water through the cooling pipes used in the facility. Wired reports that Google's interest is trying to decrease its dependence on fresh water that could be used for drinking purposes. Approximately 30 percent of the water from residents' showers and toilet flushes is now being diverted to a treatment plant that serves the Google facility, the magazine reports. (That plant was apparently paid for and built by Google.)

Google relies on a similar system, along with free cooling design (where outside air is used to cool technology) at its data center in Saint-Ghislain, Belgium.

Will this approach save money? Not necessarily, but the experiment provides a potential new revenue stream for local water utilities seeking to encourage business and residential customers to decrease their use of fresh water. It might also help during periods of drought, when water consumption reductions are mandated.

Topics: Data Centers, Google, Hardware, Storage


Heather Clancy is an award-winning business journalist specializing in transformative technology and innovation. Her articles have appeared in Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, The International Herald Tribune and The New York Times. In a past corporate life, Heather was editor of Computer Reseller News. She started her journalism lif... Full Bio

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