Montana cuts data center cooling costs from dollars to nickels

Kyoto wheel system in state’s new center uses a minimum of power

Keeping cool can be one of the biggest expenses of running a large data center, considering the power required to run air conditioning and ventilation systems. The State of Montana is using a new system that cuts those expenses to a minimum.

The state is cooling its new, state-of-the-art data center in Helena with a system that uses Kyoto wheels, developed by Kyoto Cooling International, a Dutch company that named itself after the Kyoto Protocol, according to a report in the Helena, Mont., Independent Record’s website.

The system uses three wheels, each 16 feet in diameter, to circulate air into and out of the data center, the report said. Hot air from the center’s servers is pumped through the ceiling to the wheels, which are made of 8-inch coils of aluminum that cool the air as it passes through.

Energy costs are limited to the power to turn the wheels and fans to move the air. Dick Clark, Montana’s CIO, told the Independent Record that cooling a data center can cost 50 cents to $1.50 for every dollar on energy used by the center’s servers; the Kyoto wheel system can cut that to about 5 cents.

Systems for data centers such as this one, also known as heat wheels, have been catching on in Europe for a few years. According to Data Center Knowledge, heat wheels have long been used as part of industrial air conditioning systems but, until recently, not in data centers.

But for all the promise the wheels hold for data centers, they likely would be limited to areas, such as Helena, that have cool air profiles. Even in Helena, the data center maintains an air conditioning system for the hottest days of the year.

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.


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