With the rapid expansion of cloud-based services, AI, the Internet of Things and big data analytics, there has been an increased demand across the globe for data centres in recent years. In this aspect, Singapore accounted for around 50% of Southeast Asia’s data centre capacity in 2015.

What is more, in 2018, data centres accounted for 7% of the overall annual electricity consumption in Singapore.

“About 37 per cent of the total energy consumed by data centres is used to cool IT equipment. Therefore, improving the efficiency of the cooling system can result in significant energy savings and reduce the carbon footprint of data centres. In this project, we aim to demonstrate a novel way of storing cold energy released from the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) re-gasification process and using it to cool data centres efficiently,” highlighted Dean’s Chair Associate Professor Praveen Linga.

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More specifically, a team from NUS Engineering, Keppel Data Centres and SLNG will develop a prototype of a new cooling medium that can achieve two key functions: firstly, to efficiently store and carry cold energy from the Singapore LNG Terminal to the various data centres, and secondly, to be circulated within the cooling loop in each data centre to perform effective cooling.

The technology will be called Semiclathrate Thermal Energy Carrier System (ScTECS), and aspires to facilitate data centres to improve their power usage effectiveness (PUE) by 20%.

In addition, the team wants to use LNG cold energy from LNG re-gasification terminals and use it to keep up with the energy demands in data centres. Cold energy provided from LNG re-gasification could be stored in phase change materials and distributed to data centres for cooling purposes.

The process prototype presenting the cooling technology with a capacity of 1 tonne per day will be designed, built and operated for demonstration by 2022 at NUS.