Australian Government funding for the CSIRO Geothermal Project allowed the development of an innovative geothermal system – ‘groundwater cooling’ – to manage the thermal energy emitted by the supercomputers and prevent a malfunction from overheating.
The process involves pumping water with an ambient temperature of around 21°C from the Mullaloo aquifer, through an above-ground heat exchanger, then reinjecting the water back into the aquifer.
Combined with separate, cold-water injection bores, this process has been carefully designed to avoid negatively affecting the water in the aquifer.
CSIRO estimates that using groundwater cooling to manage supercomputer temperatures will save approximately 14.5 million litres of water during the first two years of the project, compared with using conventional cooling towers.
The system is designed to have the capacity to scale up with any future additions to the supercomputing hardware.