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NUS, Keppel and SLNG tie-up to develop better cooling technology for data centres

THE National University of Singapore’s Faculty of Engineering, Keppel Data Centres Holdings and the Singapore LNG Corporation (SLNG) have partnered to develop novel, energy-efficient and cost-effective cooling technology for data centres.

The innovation could further pave the way for more sustainable and compact data centres, the partners  said in a joint statement on Monday.

The research project is supported by the the Singapore government's National Research Foundation, under its Green Data Centre Research Programme.

A five-member team from NUS Engineering, Keppel Data Centres and SLNG will jointly develop a prototype of a new cooling medium that can achieve two key functions. 

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The first is to efficiently store and carry cold energy from the Singapore LNG Terminal to the various data centres. This then will be circulated within the cooling loop in each data centre to perform effective cooling.

The new cooling technology - called Semiclathrate Thermal Energy Carrier System - may boost the power usage effectiveness of data centres by 20 per cent. It should also save space and construction costs through reducing the footprint of the cooling infrastructure.

Another innovation being explored is the harnessing and utilisation of LNG cold energy from LNG regasification terminals to offset the energy demands in data centres. 

As a start, Keppel Data Centres and SLNG are working together to explore ways to harness and utilise the cold energy from the Singapore LNG Terminal. This will see SLNG provide key technical inputs and advice related to the LNG cold energy to the team.

SLNG chief executive Tan Soo Koong added that SLNG is exploring other ways to harness the LNG cold energy from its terminal and be part of the circular economy in Jurong Island.

As for the new cooling technology, a prototype will be designed, built and operated for demonstration by 2022 at NUS.

Praveen Linga, Dean’s chair associate professor said: "NUS Engineering researchers will leverage our expertise in hydrate technologies and process engineering to identify a suitable semiclathrate promoter as well as develop a reactor and process design for this novel cooling technology."

Assoc Prof Linga is from the NUS Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and the leader of the project team.

Keppel Data Centres CEO Wong Wai Meng added: "We are pleased to collaborate with NUS and SLNG on how we can make cooling, which is a key aspect of data centre operations, more efficient, and thus contribute to a more sustainable future."

Keppel Data Centres is a 70-30 joint venture between Keppel Corp subsidiaries Keppel Telecommunications & Transportation and Keppel Land.