A Cooler Cloud: A Clever Conduit Cuts Data Centers’ Cooling Needs by 90 Percent

The company that created it, Forced Physics, plans to install the technology in a pilot plant in February

3 min read
Photo: Forced Physics
Cool Chips: Tiny aluminum “fins” inside this metal box whisk away the heat generated by computer-server electronics.
Photo: Forced Physics

Data centers are hungry, hot, and thirsty. The approximately 3 million data centers in the United States consume billions of liters of water and about 70 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, or nearly 2 percent of the nation’s total electricity use. About 40 percent of that energy runs air conditioners, chillers, server fans, and other equipment to keep computer chips cool.

Now, Forced Physics, a company based in Scottsdale, Ariz., has developed a low-power system that it says could slash a data center’s energy requirements for cooling by 90 percent. The company’s JouleForce conductor is a passive system that uses ambient, filtered, nonrefrigerated air to whisk heat away from computer chips. In February, Forced Physics plans to launch its first on-site pilot test at a commercial facility in Chandler, Ariz., owned by H5 Data Centers. There, a rack of 30 conductors will cool IT equipment consuming 36 kilowatts, as sensors track airflow, temperature, power usage, and air pressure. Information gleaned from the one-year test will be used to demonstrate performance to potential customers.

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This photograph shows a car with the words “We Drive Solar” on the door, connected to a charging station. A windmill can be seen in the background.

The Dutch city of Utrecht is embracing vehicle-to-grid technology, an example of which is shown here—an EV connected to a bidirectional charger. The historic Rijn en Zon windmill provides a fitting background for this scene.

We Drive Solar

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