The National University of Singapore (NUS), Keppel Data Centres, and Singapore LNG Corporation (SLNG) will collaborate to develop a new cooling technology that can potentially help Singaporean data centers improve their PUE by as much as 20 percent.

(L-R) Tee Jackson, Keppel Data Centres; Sreekala Kumar, Keppel Technology and Innovation; Ho Wai Ying, Singapore LNG Corporation; Dr Praveen Linga, NUS Faculty of Engineering; Professor Iftekhar A. Karimi, NUS Faculty of Engineering – Keppel Corporation

Novel cooling approach

The project entails the harnessing of the cold energy released during the re-gasification process for liquified natural gas (LNG) to cool data centers. If successful, this can result in significant energy savings and reduce the carbon footprint of data centers in tropical Singapore with its limited avenues for clean energy.

LNG is cooled down to liquid form for ease of storage and transportation. During the re-gasification process to convert it back to natural gas for use, cold energy is generated that can theoretically be harnessed to offset the cooling demands of data centers.

A five-member team from NUS Engineering, Keppel and SLNG will jointly develop a prototype of a new cooling medium to efficiently store and carry cold energy from the Singapore LNG Terminal to various data centers in Singapore, as well as the requisite infrastructure to leverage it for effective cooling.

The research team will explore the use of a water-based phase-change fluid as thermal energy carriers to replace chilled water as a cooling medium. With a thermal density two to five times higher than chilled water, it is also hoped that it will reduce the amount of water and power required to cool data centers.

The project is supported by the Singapore government's National Research Foundation under its Green Data Centre Research Programme. A process prototype with a capacity of one ton a day will be designed, built and operated for demonstration by 2022 at NUS.

As a start, Keppel and SLNG will work together to explore ways to harness and utilize the cold energy from the Singapore LNG Terminal. SLNG will provide key technical inputs and advice related to the LNG cold energy to the team and is also understood to be exploring other ways to harness LNG cold energy on Jurong Island where the terminal is located.

Keppel has also begun scouting nearshore locations for floating, hyperscale data centers.