Tomorrow Water Files Patent to Pursue Development of Data Centers on Water Resource Recovery Facilities
ANAHEIM, Calif., May 4, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- BKT Co. Ltd., a leader in wastewater treatment and sustainability, alongside its global subsidiary Tomorrow Water, intends to build data centers on-site at water resource recovery facilities (WRRFs). Tomorrow Water's plan takes advantage of synergistic opportunities to drastically reduce energy costs and environmental impacts of both wastewater treatment and data center operations.
Tomorrow Water's intends to build data centers on-site at water resource recovery facilities.
At the core of the innovation is BKT's patent-pending concept of exchanging and reusing wastewater and heat between WRRFs and on-site data centers. As data centers undergo air-cooling, hot air is diverted into the biological treatment and/or sludge drying systems of the WRRF. Further, the cold water treated by the WRRF is used to cool the air feeding the data center. Once this water is warmed via heat exchange at the data center, it is fed back to the WRRF where it warms the biological reactors.
Data center services have practically achieved utility status as data requirements around the world expand every year. Trends such as remote learning, work-from-home durin the COVID pandemic, and the digital transformation of developing nations create a significant need for new data centers globally. Furthermore, the so-called "Industry 4.0", meaning industrial adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), cloud systems, driverless cars, and smart factories has led to rapid growth of the global IT infrastructure market, not to mention over 1,500 companies currently providing colocation services at data centers worldwide.
The demand for data centers comes with significant challenges, including space limitations, huge energy requirements, steep operation and maintenance costs, and a serious carbon footprint associated with data centers which are notoriously energy intensive.
Finding the space for these data centers also presents a challenge since they are most needed in major metropolitan areas where land is limited or in areas where necessary infrastructure is lacking. For instance, land prices in Loudon County near Washington DC where data centers for Google, Microsoft, and Amazon are concentrated have more than doubled in recent years.
BKT has succeeded in developing advanced WRRFs that require only a fraction of the physical footprint required by conventionally designed treatment plants. This achievement is due in part to the company's BBF/Proteus biofiltration technology which uses 60-70% less square footage than a primary clarifier of the same throughput. At the Jungnang Water Reclamation Center, Seoul, South Korea's first WRRF, BKT cut the plant's existing footprint in half after it underwent modernization 3 years ago. Currently at Jungnang, the reclaimed space has been transformed into a community park and a museum. However, in scenarios like this, reclaimed space created by Tomorrow Water's retrofitting could instead be repurposed to develop and operate data centers.
Kim Dong-woo, CEO and Founder of BKT and Tomorrow Water explained, "The concept of building a WRRF alongside a data center is expected to be a particularly attractive alternative for large cities in the United States that are experiencing budget reductions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is very likely that large financial institutions and construction companies will cooperate to improve wastewater treatment infrastructure, as well as acquire needed space for data centers as public-private partnership projects."
The combination of WRRFs and data centers has great potential to revitalize local governments' economies and job markets. The US is fiercely competing to attract data centers by offering tax benefits, funding, and R&D support. Data centers have traditionally been built in large cities because of their economic and infrastructure needs, including labor, security, and access to a stable power supply. BKT believes that by integrating WRRFs and data centers, local governments can attract capital to modernize WRRFs and improve efficiency, reducing the environmental and financial burden of WRRFs and data centers simultaneously.
Kim Dong-woo is optimistic, "Since the successful underground construction of the Jungnang Water Reclamation Center, BKT & Tomorrow Water pursued the concept of building a data center on a reclaimed site. We are currently working to secure funding to develop the world's first WRRF-data center system and are partnering with various domestic and overseas companies to promote sustainable development in line with modern environmental initiatives like the Green New Deal and United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals."
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