It’s cool and wet tonight, the perfect conditions for the creation of steam in our cooling plant. Below are a photos of the two cooling towers putting out steam and mist.

This equipment uses outside air to cool and compress freon, which is then piped inside to large air handlers in the data center. See our cooling system video for an overview.

Each of the cooling towers has 200 tons of cooling capacity, for a total of 400 RT (refrigeration tons) in the system. Either of the two towers can accommodate our current data center cooling requirement, so we have redundant capacity, allowing for failure or maintenance.

What’s 200 tons of cooling capacity mean? From Wikipedia:

The unit ton is used in refrigeration and air conditioning to measure heat absorption. Prior to the introduction of mechanical refrigeration, cooling was accomplished by delivering ice. Installing one ton of refrigeration replaced the daily delivery of one ton of ice.

In North America, a standard ton of refrigeration is 12,000 BTU/h = 200 BTU/min ≈ 3,517 W. This is approximately the power required to melt one short ton (2,000 lb) of ice at 0 °C in 24 hours, thus representing the delivery of 1 ton of ice per day.

So, if I’m doing my math right, with both towers at full capacity we could chill the equivalent of about one point four million watts. That would be an awful lot of trucks full of ice!