heat pumps will require 31 boreholes

Geothermal heat pump to power Boston data center

90% of the heating and cooling of Boston University’s new data center is provided by a geothermal heat pump. The heat pump will draw its energy from underground, at a depth of over 450 meters.

The birth of a new geothermal data center in Boston

At Boston University, an atypical data center will see the light of day later this year. Initiated by the Center for Computing and Data Sciences, it will use underground heat exchangers, and this method will guarantee a large part of its heating and cooling.

The infrastructure will use water, circulating underground at 450 meters. The water will be kept at a constant temperature of between 10 and 15°C. The University plans to use heat pumps in winter to achieve this optimum temperature. The rooms must be heated in winter but not in summer, and this interval is sufficient to keep the building cool.

As a reminder, the facility was built on a total of 32,000 square meters. It has 19 floors in all and will house departments of the Hariri Institute, including the Department of Statistics, Mathematics, and Computer Science. The University confirms that this is the largest “fuel-free building” in Boston.

Focus on a revolutionary heating and cooling system

The heat pumps will require 31 boreholes, and only then will they be able to supply 300 tonnes of capacity for cooling or heating. In addition to these features, there will be “external solar shading, triple glazing, LED lighting and efficient heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.”

The University has also set itself a carbon neutral target by 2040. It has even signed a contract with the South Dakota Wind Farm to purchase electricity from renewable energy.

According to Philip Warburg, a senior researcher at the Institute for Global Sustainability, this preheated water will be present in the heat pumps even in the coldest New England weather. This will only raise the temperature and produce heat if it is needed. “On warmer days or in busy spaces where heat builds up even in winter, the heat exchangers will tap into the cooler temperature of the earth to provide cooling,” he says.

For his part, Dennis Carlberg emphasizes that the facility is a “fabulous exercise.” It showed the scope of what they could achieve. It also gave those responsible for planning and operations on campus a better understanding of how things work. As Warburg said, the center will be used for classrooms, lecture halls, and offices, and it will not include a server room or data center space in Boston.

In order to save energy, it is possible to use free energy from the earth.

Geothermal energy is an alternative to solar energy systems. The geothermal heat pump produces hot water and provides heating for a home while ensuring real energy savings.

Geothermal heat pump technology explained

A geothermal heat pump, is a piece of equipment that uses the calories present in the ground to heat water to supply the home with domestic hot water and heating as explained on this Truelocal page. The heat can be collected in different ways, i.e. either vertically, horizontally or elliptically.

The advantage of a geothermal heat pump is that it works all year round. While systems that use solar energy are dependent on climatic conditions, this is not the case with a geothermal heat pump, since the heat from the ground at the collectors remains the same regardless of the outside temperature.

With this type of equipment, a house can reduce its annual heating bill by a factor of 3 or 4. This type of saving allows the purchase and installation price of a geothermal heat pump to pay for itself after several years of use.

Using the Earth’s heat to heat your home

In order to produce domestic hot water and to supply the radiators of a home, the geothermal heat pump uses the calories produced by the heat of the Earth to feed on free and environmentally friendly energy to operate. The hot water circuit to heat the house is compatible with radiators, but also with underfloor heating.
In order to capture these calories, the collectors must be buried in the ground by a professional specialised in this type of installation.