Web host 1&1 recycles nuke fuel facility as green datacenter

Company will use renewable energy, free cooling

A facility once destined for developing nuclear fuel is taking on a whole new life as a green datacenter.

Web-host company 1&1 this week announced plans to build one of Europe's largest datacenters within a never-before-used nuclear fuel facility called New MOX. The company will install 100,000 servers across an area of 10,000 square meters in the building, located in Hanau, Germany.

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The facility was constructed in the late 1980s and was originally intended to produce mixed oxide rods made from enriched uranium and plutonium. The facility never became operational, and by the end of 1995, its former owner decided to give up the space. Two years ago, the premises in Hanau were finally released from nuclear control legislation. 1&1 then became interested in it.

The company pledges that the datacenter, which should be operational come the end of 2009, will be green. For starters, like all 1&1 datacenters, the facility will use electricity only from renewable energy sources.

It doesn't end there, according to Oliver Mauss, CEO of 1&1. "We also pay much attention to saving energy -- after all, the power bill is one of the largest parts of our operational expenses for such datacenters."

For example, the company will use outside air, also known as air-side economization or free cooling, to chill the datacenter equipment. 1&1 also uses low-energy components within all its servers, according to Mauss.

[ For more on air-side economization, please read "Intel pushes the limits of free cooling to 90 degrees" ]