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NREL Named 2014 Laboratory of the Year with Liquid-Cooled Supercomputer

e image GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini (left), NREL Associate Lab Director Bryan Hannegan, and NREL Director Dan Arvizu discuss the high performance computer Peregrine during a tour of the ESIF.

GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini (left), NREL Associate Lab Director Bryan Hannegan, and NREL Director Dan Arvizu discuss the high performance computer Peregrine during a tour of the ESIF.

This week R&D Magazine honored the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and their Peregrine supercomputer as one of the top technological innovations of the year.

The R&D 100 Awards recognize excellence across a wide range of industries, including telecommunications, optics, high-energy physics, materials science, chemistry and biotechnology. Some winners are established Fortune 500 companies and others are federally funded research institutions, academia and government labs.

When NREL outgrew its old data center and was drawing up plans for its Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF), ideas for a new data center were met with thoughts on how to live up to NREL’s mission of being a living laboratory for energy efficiency and sustainability.

Computers generate significant quantities of waste heat that is typically just thrown away,” said Steve Hammond, director of the Computational Science Center at NREL. “Our vision was to build a showcase facility, to integrate the computer and data center with the building and do it with a holistic view toward energy efficiency. “We spent a lot of time talking with people in the computer industry, telling them where we were headed,” Hammond added. “‘If we want to do this, you might want to consider the following…,’ that type of thing.”

To meet their goals, NREL worked with HP to develop an innovative liquid cooling system for their next generation Peregrine supercomputer.

At the same time that NREL was ramping up the effort to build a new facility that would be a world leader in energy efficiency, we at HP had been working on a project called Apollo—a liquid-cooled supercomputer platform,” said HP Distinguished Technologist Nic Dube. “Availability was initially targeted for a year later than Steve’s timeline, but we decided to accelerate the program to meet NREL’s goals.”

In this video from the 2014 HPC User Forum in Seattle, Steven Hammond from NREL presents: Bits, Bytes and BTUs: Warm Water Liquid Cooling at NREL.

Peregrine provides sufficient heat to meet the needs of the 182,500-square-foot ESIF, and combined with an energy-efficient data center is saving NREL about $1 million a year in energy costs. In all, the ESIF consumes 74% less energy than the national average for office buildings. It has been designated a LEED Platinum building.

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