Thermosyphon Cooler Hybrid System for Water Savings in an Energy-Efficient HPC Data Center: Modeling and Installation: Preprint

David Sickinger, Kevin Regimbal, Thomas Carter, Zan Liu, David Martinez

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


The Thermosyphon Cooler Hybrid System (TCHS) integrates the control of a dry heat rejection device, the thermosyphon cooler (TSC), with an open cooling tower. A combination of equipment and controls, this new heat rejection system embraces the 'smart use of water,' using evaporative cooling when it is most advantageous and then saving water and modulating toward increased dry sensible cooling as system operations and ambient weather conditions permit. Innovative fan control strategies ensure the most economical balance between water savings and parasitic fan energy. The unique low-pressure-drop design of the TSC allows water to be cooled directly by the TSC evaporator without risk of bursting tubes in subfreezing ambient conditions. Johnson Controls partnered with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Sandia National Laboratories to deploy the TSC as a test bed at NREL's high-performance computing (HPC) data center in the first half of 2016. Located in NREL's Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF), this HPC data center has achieved an annualized average power usage effectiveness rating of 1.06 or better since 2012. Warm-water liquid cooling is used to capture heat generated by computer systems direct to water; that waste heat is either reused as the primary heat source in the ESIF building or rejected using evaporative cooling. This data center is the single largest source of water and power demand on the NREL campus, using about 7,600 m3 (2.0 million gal) of water during the past year with an hourly average IT load of nearly 1 MW (3.4 million Btu/h) -- so dramatically reducing water use while continuing efficient data center operations is of significant interest. Because Sandia's climate is similar to NREL's, this new heat rejection system being deployed at NREL has gained interest at Sandia. Sandia's data centers utilize an hourly average of 8.5 MW (29 million Btu/h) and are also one of the largest consumers of water on Sandia's site. In addition to describing the installation of the TSC and its integration into the ESIF, this paper focuses on the full heat rejection system simulation program used for hourly analysis of the energy and water consumption of the complete system under varying operating scenarios. A follow-up paper will detail the test results. The evaluation of the TSC's performance at NREL will also determine a path forward at Sandia for possible deployment in a large-scale system not only for data center use but also possibly site wide.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages10
StatePublished - 2017
Event2017 ASHRAE Winter Conference - Las Vegas, Nevada
Duration: 28 Jan 20171 Feb 2017


Conference2017 ASHRAE Winter Conference
CityLas Vegas, Nevada

Bibliographical note

See NREL/PR-2C00-68659 for a related presentation.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-2C00-66690


  • heat rejection system
  • TCHS
  • thermosyphon cooler
  • Thermosyphon Cooler Hybrid System


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