Keppel invests in developer of first waterborne data centre

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Keppel has invested US$10 million in data centre startup Nautilus Data Technologies. Based in California, Nautilus is an internationally recognised company that employs patented water-cooling technology in pre-fabricated facilities, which are claimed to be more cost efficient and environmentally sustainable than traditional structures and can be rapidly deployed across the globe. Nautilus was the first company to successfully launch a waterborne data centre prototype in 2015 incorporating its technology on a vessel, demonstrating additional capability for large scale modularity, mobility and flexibility in data centre deployment in both developed and emerging markets.

Nautilus is currently building its first commercial data centre at Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Northern California, and deployment is scheduled for early 2018. The carrier-neutral data centre facility will feature power capacity of approximately 6MW distributed across four data vaults with redundancy for connectivity and power.

Mr Wong Wai Meng, CEO of Keppel Data Centres, said: “While meeting the digital economy’s increasing demand for critical data centre infrastructure, we continuously look at better and more efficient ways of deploying data centre resources for our customers. This strategic investment in Nautilus will allow Keppel Data Centres to benefit from the development of innovative and sustainable data centre technology that has great potential for broader commercial application.”

The Nautilus design is claimed to deliver some key advantages over traditional air-cooled data centres, which typically require expensive cooling towers, water chillers, water treatment chemicals and refrigerants to cool the ambient air in server rooms. In contrast, Nautilus’ water-cooled data centres employ less complex systems that can be deployed in half the time. Nautilus data centres are sited on vessels or on land near large water bodies, and use the naturally chilled water to cool the facilities, recirculating the water back to its original source with virtually zero water consumption.

By eliminating the need for energy-intensive air-cooling equipment and water treatment chemicals, Nautilus technology can reduce operating costs up to 30% while increasing cooling efficiency by up to 80%. It can also reduce carbon emissions and air pollution by 30%, while using only one third the spatial footprint with up to five times the server capacity.

Mr Wong added: “Through this investment, we can also explore opportunities for collaboration and harnessing of synergies within the Keppel Group, for example, by tapping the Group’s capabilities and experience in the offshore and marine sector for the development of floating water-cooled data centres.”

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