Japanese Datacenter Uses Waste Heat to Farm Eels
Japanese Datacenter Uses Waste Heat to Farm Eels, WTF?! In waters warmed by its in-development data center, a new corporate venture in Hokkaido, Japan, plans to raise 300,000 eels every year by 2023. It also plans to use snow from the city’s streets as a pre-chilled liquid for its devices.
The White Data Center (WDC) opened for business in April of last year, although work is still ongoing. Meanwhile, efforts are being made to build a farming operation that will use recycled water warmed by the cooling system of the company’s servers.
They experimented with abalone, cherry tomatoes, Japanese mustard spinach, sea urchin, and a variety of other products before settling on eel, a favorite luxury meal in Japan.
Wholesale prices for farm-grown eels can reach $100 per kg, or $90 for each dish in restaurants.
Tree ear mushrooms are also being grown by WDC. They have a short cultivation cycle, similar to eels, making them a more accessible investment.
WDC received the 1,700 elvers (juvenile eels) it released into tanks on February 25 from a Kobe company. It intends to advertise them as “Hokkaido’s first eel farmed.”
Eels prefer warmer conditions than Hokkaido, but WDC believes that the heat generated by its servers will maintain the tanks of the 300,000 eels it plans to keep at the appropriate 33° C.
Since November of last year, WDC has been rearing 6,000 eels in warmed snowmelt in partnership with the municipal of Bibai.
Bibai is prone to severe snowfall and is collaborating with WDC to investigate the feasibility of using snow collected by the city’s snowplows as pre-cooled water for the servers and as a supply of fresh water for the eels.
WDC believes that using snowmelt as a plentiful and economical source of freshwater could increase the eels’ taste and size.
After a seven to twelve-month cultivation phase, it expects to sell them for 250 grams or more. They will be sold around the country, but they may also be handed to local schools for lunch.
It’s less obvious how the snow could be employed to keep servers cool. Most servers employ rack-scale coolers to exhaust heat into an air-conditioned room, however other servers require a bigger, closed-loop liquid cooling system to do so.
Neither strategy works well in the snow. Ambient cooling systems, such as Microsoft’s subterranean data center, do exist, but their designs do not easily adapt to snow-cooling.
Nonetheless, WDC claims that its experiments have been a huge success, and it plans to keep investing in the development of new energy-saving solutions.