Contractors carry out works for the groundwater cooling aspect of the CSIRO Geothermal Project in Perth, Western Australia.

Cooling solution for supercomputer heralds new age in renewable energy

February 25, 2013

The development of a renewable system for cooling Australia’s largest supercomputer is a step closer, following the start of an innovative geothermal energy project in Perth.

In what will be an Australian first, the CSIRO Geothermal Project will deliver a novel solution for cooling the Pawsey Centre supercomputer, an A$80 million facility currently under construction in Kensington, south Perth.

“The system is known as groundwater cooling, and works by pumping cool water from a depth of around 100 metres through an above-ground heat exchanger to cool the supercomputer, then reinjecting the water underground again,” said CSIRO’s project director, Steve Harvey.

“Although the water returned to the aquifer is a few degrees warmer than the surrounds, the groundwater cooling system is engineered to prevent negative impacts to the surrounding environment.”

With zero net use of groundwater, the system is also environmentally friendly. CSIRO estimates that using groundwater cooling to cool the Pawsey Centre supercomputer will save approximately 38.5 million litres of water every year, in comparison to using conventional cooling towers. That’s enough to fill more than 15 Olympic-sized swimming pools. If deployed more widely, the technology also has the potential to replace cooling towers in buildings all over Perth.

Read more: Cooling solution for supercomputer heralds new age in renewable energy — phys.org.

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