Again, the technology is not rocket science, but geothermal cooling does require a fair amount of pipe. A successful geothermal installation also requires careful advance analysis. Because a data center generates heat continuously, pumping that heat into a single earth sink could lead to local saturation and a loss of cooling. An analysis of ground capabilities near the data center will determine how much a given area can absorb, whether heat-transfer assistance from underground aquifers will improve heat dissipation, and what, if any, environmental impacts might ensue.
Speaking of Iowa, the ACT college testing nonprofit deployed a geothermal heat sink for its Iowa City data center. Another Midwestern company, Prairie Bunkers near Hastings, Neb., is pursuing geothermal cooling for its Data Center Park facility, converting several 5,000-square-foot ammo bunkers into self-contained data centers.
Radical energy savings method 8: Move heat to the sea via pipes Unlike geothermal heat sinks, the ocean is effectively an infinite heat sink for data center purposes. The trick is being near one, but that is more likely than you might think: Any sufficiently large body of water, such as the Great Lakes between the United States and Canada, can serve as a coolant reservoir.
The ultimate seawater cooling scenario is a data center island, which could use the ocean in the immediate area to cool the data center using sea-to-freshwater heat exchangers. The idea is so good that Google patented it back in 2007. Google's approach falls far afield of the objectives in this article, however, since the first step is to either acquire or construct an island.