back to article Immersion-cooled colo is coming to Ohio... via a crypto-mining datacenter

A datacenter being built in Ohio will reportedly be the first in the US to deploy two-phase immersion cooling – but only a portion of the facility will be used for HPC colocation with rest used to mine cryptocurrency. The facility is being built by Standard Power, with liquid cooling company LiquidStack supplying the hardware …

  1. Winter is Coming!

    Environmental - Warming River Water

    So when do we put Carbon Taxes on them along with forcing them to use cooling towers before introducing the thermal pollution into the river ecosystem? I wonder what kind of environmental studies Ohio required them to do before green lighting this project? Which then you have to look into who ran the environmental studies and lined their pockets along with the politicians.

    1. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker Silver badge

      Re: Environmental - Warming River Water

      "...forcing them to use cooling towers..."

      I'd rather the waste heat be in the water than the air, but if anyone knows of a well-researched expert opinion I'd gladly take a read.

      1. Persona Silver badge

        Re: Environmental - Warming River Water

        The Earth gets ~25MW of heat from the sun for every person alive, so 52MW from a data center directly heating air or water is only a very very local effect.

    2. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: Environmental - Warming River Water

      So long as the river isn't being warmed enough to bother the fish I don't think it matters. It would require either a MUCH bigger datacenter or a very small river for that to be an issue. Some back of the envelope calculations indicate you'd need 300 of these datacenters to raise the temperature of the Mississippi 1F, so as long as the river used is larger than 1/300th the flow of the Mississippi you wouldn't even get a one degree rise.

      You can't use ALL a river's flow, of course, so you'd have spot heating where the exchange is located. However it would quickly disperse through the rest of the water and before long into the atmosphere. Probably within a few miles, depending on how turbulent the river's flow is. You realize that plenty of industrial plants dump warm water into rivers right? Most with added pollution, at least this water would be clean with heat as the only "pollution".

      1. Andy The Hat Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: Environmental - Warming River Water

        Like to see the figures you obviously plucked out out of the air for your "back of the envelope calculations", little things like disigned intake flow rate which will basically control the output temperature ...

        1. John Robson Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: Environmental - Warming River Water

          52MW is enough to heat ~12 cubic metres of water 1 degree celsius per second.

          - Specific heat capacity of water is ~4200J/kg/deg

          Flow rate of the mississippi is about 17 thousand cubic metres of water per second (into the gulf)

          - https://www.nps.gov/miss/riverfacts.htm

          So to heat the mississippi by a degree F you'd need ~17000/12 * 1.8(c/f conversion) => two and half thousand of these facilities.

          The major assumption is that the heat is evenly distributed amongst the entire mass flow, which feels reasonable within a relatively short distance from the facility.

          The second major question is "what bothers the fish" because things like the solubility of oxygen in water is reduced as temperature increases.

          1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

            Re: Environmental - Warming River Water

            So the assumption is based on using the entire flow? That's just silly. It will be locally pumped and discharged at much higher temperature which will cause local change in conditions for a significant length of the river. This may not seem much but the *secondary* cooling of a nearby nuclear reactor using a flow of 34m^3 of seawater per second causes locally increases in temperature of up to 2C which causes significant impact on the local flora and fauna - and that's discharge into the open ocean not into a constrained flow.

            1. John Robson Silver badge

              Re: Environmental - Warming River Water

              The thermal gradient around the plant will exist, but that will be a very localised effect. Looking at the river as a whole, there is a small effect that a localised temperature difference might have by making it hard for fish etc. to pass through the affected region, but I struggle to see that being particularly significant here.

              How many miles down a fairly turbulent water flow would you expect a relevant gradient to persist?

              Using the whole mass flow is done to account for the fact for the vast majority of the river the effect will be distributed amongst the entire mass flow.

              The presence of buildings at all is likely to have a significant impact on the local environment anyway - even if it didn't directly connect to the river it would significantly affect runoff etc.

  2. 2+2=5 Silver badge
    Linux

    Minimal impact my arse

    > Capes added that heat rejection from air-cooled systems will be run through river water that's pulled in, heated, and dumped back in the river to minimize its impact.

    Putting warm water back into a river is guaranteed to have a significant impact on the aquatic ecosystem. How many degrees warmer does he envisage?

    [Icon: Won't someone think of the wildlife?] :-)

    1. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker Silver badge

      Re: Minimal impact my arse

      The nuclear power plant I grew up near (Wikipedia link) uses Mississippi River water.

      Straight from linked page: "The Monticello section of the Mississippi River remains unfrozen during winter and attracts hundreds of trumpeter swans, largely due to warm water discharged by the nuclear plant."

      But there are benefits also: It increases aquatic plant and fish populations, which also draws more tourism via recreational fishing, which Monticello businesses don't mind.

      1. Martin Gregorie

        Re: Minimal impact my arse

        A quick look at Coshocton, OH on Google Earth shows that in Cantwell Run, which is just below the point where two rivers join to become the Muskingum River, the combined river is only 80m wide and appears to be quite slow flowing. IOW its heat removal capacity doesn't look all that large: certainly not when compared to the Mississippi, which is over 600m wide at St Louis and navigable as far north as Montana.

        So, who's for precooked catfish? Looks they could become freely available just downstream of that nice, eco-friendly water cooled data centre.

        1. Alpharious

          Re: Minimal impact my arse

          >So, who's for precooked catfish?

          Chinese carp. Americanized Chinese carp, which have this weird mutation that makes them jump out of the water if they hear a noise. The flip side is that they have just ravaged the ecosystem, so killing them off would fix some problems.

      2. David 132 Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Minimal impact my arse

        >But there are benefits also: It increases aquatic plant and fish populations, which also draws more tourism via recreational fishing, which Monticello businesses don't mind.

        And the biggest benefit of all - it allows manchildren with more money than brains to trade imaginary links to pictures of cartoon apes back-and-forth with each other! What higher purpose could anything have, you cynic?

      3. 2+2=5 Silver badge

        Re: Minimal impact my arse

        > Straight from linked page: "The Monticello section of the Mississippi River remains unfrozen during winter and attracts hundreds of trumpeter swans, largely due to warm water discharged by the nuclear plant."

        Those swans used to be somewhere else, generating tourist revenue for somewhere else.

  3. Stork Silver badge

    I have a much better idea

    Drop that effing crapto

    1. Little Mouse Silver badge

      Re: I have a much better idea

      And here's another idea, for anyone/everyone who issues press releases:

      Stop using the phrase "Perfect storm" to describe literally absolutely effing everything.

  4. DJO Silver badge

    Displacement green washing

    There is a certain amount of energy generated, some from renewables and some not but electrons are all the same.

    So because they use "green power" other consumers that would otherwise have had their power from renewables instead get it from fossil plants.

    Unless their system is using windmills, hydro or solar that they built for this purpose and are not connected to the grid, any claims that it is not environmentally harmful are spurious.

    Climate change cannot be fixed with creative accountancy.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Displacement green washing

      Absolutely correct, but overlooks the elephant in the room.

      The buildout of renewable sources is not even keeping pace with the growth in energy demand globally. Anyone who thinks that fossil fuel consumption is going anywhere in the next couple of generations (hah!) is a fairytale idealist with their head up their arse.

      What doesn't help here is that the "developing world" (YMMV) has an exemption on all the eco targets and fossil power is quicker and cheaper to build out. The seriously daft bit is that it's far simpler to build renewable infrastructure from scratch than it is to migrate from a fossil infrastructure. In theory, every dollar spent on renewables in the developing world is worth several times one spent in the west in terms of long term impact. In practice "postcolonial guilt" trumps common sense.

      So calling what is being done creative accountancy is being generous with the word "creative".

  5. binaryspiral

    40MW into a river has got to have a sizable impact on the ecosystem... and that's not a large or fast river to begin with.

    1. DJO Silver badge

      "40MW" does not mean anything without a time component.

      Let's assume they meant 40MWh which is 1.44x10¹¹ Joules which will raise 3,445 litres by one degree Celsius per hour.

      Assuming a reasonable flow rate in the river it's not a huge amount, wouldn't worry too much about it

      1. DJO Silver badge

        I'd add if they were really serious about being green they'd find a use for that waste heat - heating greenhouses, a public swimming pool, heating for commercial or residential ... etc etc.

        Dumping waste heat while it's not much of an issue is still a waste.

        1. jmch Silver badge

          Absolutely. Here in Switzerland the local power company is building a system to extract heat from the lake and put to useful use.

          Being able to capture and re-use waste heat is really something we need to master given how much of it we produce

      2. khjohansen

        "without a time component"

        It's a datacenter - I'd assume 24/365 ALL THE FFFF'in TIME!

        1. DJO Silver badge

          Re: "without a time component"

          I think you are missing the point "MW" on it's own is a meaningless value, it needs to be power per duration to have any significant meaning so MWh (MegaWattHour) is the probable unit intended.

          Really I'm surprised El Reg would make such a fundamental error but there you go.

          1. John Robson Silver badge

            Re: "without a time component"

            Nope - power is the correct unit... I'll dump 52MW into this river...

            I'm not going to do it once, I'll be doing it 24/7.

            So the effect is spread amongst the mass flow of the river at that point.

            1. DJO Silver badge

              Re: "without a time component"

              So is that 53MW per second, minute, hour, day, week, month or year?

              1. John Robson Silver badge

                Re: "without a time component"

                It is 52MW - ie 52 million joules per second.

                How fast is that car travelling? 52mph

                But is that 52mph per hour or per day?

                erm... what?

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: "without a time component"

                  "But is that 52mph per hour or per day?"

                  Either way it's a rather slow rate of acceleration.

                  Perhaps El Reg could introduce a quick filter such that any first post involving terms like "MW" would require a response to "are these units?"

                  a) absolute

                  b) per-unit

                  c) differential

                  d) SI units are part of a French conspiracy

                  to be answered correctly.

                  Obvs I will have messed up somewhere in there so I am AC.

                  1. John Robson Silver badge
                    Boffin

                    Re: "without a time component"

                    Either way it's a rather slow rate of acceleration.

                    Indeed, although at some point during a reasonable acceleration phase it will be true, although I would imagine that the jerk would be quite high, so it wouldn't be at that for very long (and is therefore a ridiculous unit).

      3. Potemkine! Silver badge

        IMNSHO, there's a flaw in the calculation. 40MW is not the thermal flux evacuated, it's the power required by the cooling system to work. At best we could estimate the heat generated by the cooling system itself, but we cannot tell from this value how much heat is transferred from the primary system by the cooling system.

        1. DJO Silver badge

          No - The calculation was for an ideal system where all energy is converted to heat.

          This gives a maximum value which can be used as a rough order of magnitude estimate.

          But of course eventually due to entropy all energy will end up as heat.

  6. Alpharious

    An Amish datacenter.

    They built it in Amish country. They built a crypto mining data center, in Amish country.

    I'd make jokes about the cheap pie and getting lifestyle diseases from the cheap food, but frankly that's a great place for a datacenter. The cost of living there is very nice and it's just hours' drive away from Columbus. I mean there is akron, but that place is a dump. That's a very good place for a datacenter. You have a good talent pool from the state university nearby, and you are an hour away from one of the tech hubs in the state; so they have talent near by. If you want quiet then that would be a great gig.

    The only issue might be infrastructure, but 5g broadband seems to be cheaper to implement than fiber.

    As for the environmental impact, that's Ohio. The state that was so polluted they had a river catch fire, for a week, which forced "ultra liberal, ultra progressive" Richard Nixion to create the EPA.

  7. Potemkine! Silver badge

    40 MW just to cool equipments used for mining, without mentioning the power required to run the equipments themselves.

    And this just for scams and speculation. This is insane.

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      I read it as the data centre would scale to using 52MW... not that running the cooling would be 52MW...

      Since all input eventually ends up as heat... that's 52MW to dissipate.

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