A supercomputer processing vast amounts of data from the Square Kilometre Array precursor project in WA will be cooled using geothermal energy under a $20 million CSIRO project.
The new Pawsey Centre Supercomputer at the Australian Resources Research Centre in the southern Perth suburb of Kensington will be cooled using the groundwater cooling method, whereby excess heat generated from buildings, machinery or equipment is injected into underground stores of cool water.
The water is then pumped through an above-ground heat exchanger to provide the cooling.
Supercomputers consume vast amounts of power, almost all of which is turned into heat and needs to be cooled.
The method is expected to save about 38.5 million litres of water each year compared to the standard cooling tower solution.
It will be the first time a groundwater cooling system is used on this scale in metropolitan Australia, and the technology has the potential to replace cooling towers in commercial and residential buildings throughout Perth.
The Pawsey Centre project aimed to prove the large-scale viability of geothermal energy, University of WA geothermal scientist Klaus Regenauer-Lieb said.
The Perth Basin under the Swan Coastal Plain had the ideal geological settings to aim for the goal of a zero emissions geothermal city, Professor Regenauer-Lieb said.
Once operational in March, the supercomputer will process masses of data generated by the existing Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder and Murchison Widefield Array radio telescopes at an observatory in the Mid-West.