Supercomputer reuses waste heat to warm buildings

IBM's Aquasar cuts energy use with water-carrying "micro-capillaries" that cool microchips and reuse the heat elsewhere.


New supercomputer technology from IBM can remove waste heat and use the excess energy to warm a building, reports Reuters . According to IBM , the computer will reduce overall energy consumption by 40% and save up to 30 tons of carbon dioxide a year, exciting figures for companies who are trying to cut cooling costs for energy-hogging data centers.

The supercomputer, developed jointly with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich , won't start operation until 2010 and will cost more to build than a supercomputer with a traditional cooling system. IBM says the return on the investment will come within a year, given the system's efficiency.

The Aquasar uses water-carrying "micro-capillaries" to take water close to microchips so the system is cooled at a temperature of 140 F, according to IBM researcher Dr. Thomas Brunschwiler. The excess heat from the computer can be used in a 25 kW system that will only account for a "small fraction" of the building's overall energy demand, but researchers said future applications are promising.

"In a future system if you run an entire data center in this mode then it will be a large fraction of the energy demand of an entity like this," said Dr. Bruno Michel of IBM Research in Zurich, Switzerland.

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