Google flushing heat from Georgia data center, literally

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, CXO, Google, Hardware, Storage

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  • New revenue stream?

    Why would Google pay the utilities the same money for recycled toilet water as they pay for fresh water? More than altruism, I would suspect it is savings which Google is focussing on.
  • smart people at google

    during droughts, use of drinking water may be restricted. In our town, car washing and lawn watering is restricted. But probably use of recycled water is not restricted. So Google trying to hedge its bets. Besides it makes a good PR point.
  • Because, of course,

    we all know that when you drink a glass of fresh water, it disappears from the planet forever (ignore the rain falling outside your window; it's a plot by the GOP to deceive you into thinking water is a renewable resource).
  • Heather, you do realize (I hope)

    that waste water is treated to remove toxins then released back into the environment as fresh water.
  • Shouldn't it be the other way around

    I think it could be best if google use the water to cool before it is send to homes as well as that will make the warm water and it will reduce the bacteria and cost of heating the water in boiler. While coming back it can be used again as they are doing now. I think it should be a win win model for every city in US.
    • Warm water creates more bacteria

      While it might be useful to pre-warm water destined for a boiler or water heater by using it for cooling water in your building's datacenter, the temperature you want to keep your computer at it is perfect for [b]growing[/b], not killing bacteria, so it should not be considered potable after use. I like the idea of using "gray-water" headed for the sewer as coolant, before you throw it away. Might as well get value out of something you used to think of as worthless.

      It sounds like these guys are trying to do it on a larger scale, taping directly into the main sewer line, bringing it into the facility as a coolant.

      Now, when your "effluent" is going to waste water treatment, you actually want to encourage the bacteria to break down the bigger ..."stuff"... and larger organic molecules, so it sounds like everybody wins.