Partnership for Army supercomputing center wins energy-savings award

October 24, 2016

By Dan Lafontaine, RDECOM Public Affairs

Story Highlights

  • The U.S. Army Research Laboratory anticipates to acquire and install new supercomputing systems every two years through the life cycle of a chilled-water cooling plant.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Oct. 21, 2016) — A U.S. Army partnership will result in millions of dollars in energy- cost savings for a supercomputing center here, officials recently announced.

After the Army Research Laboratory announced it would install additional computing capability in 2015 to its facility at APG, engineers and facility managers looked to minimize energy costs.

A team of three Army organizations and two companies proposed to implement a water-cooling system versus the typical air-cooling method.

The water-cooled system is about 40 percent more efficient than existing air-cooled units used by the Army. The estimated first-year savings is $485,380, and APG expects to save $8.2 million over the 14-year performance period.

"Because it's a supercomputing facility, it's a huge energy draw compared to a normal office building, and requires cooling year-round, rather than only during the Summer," said Melanie Reese, an ARL civil engineer. "The water cooling system is able to cool the supercomputers extremely efficiently when outdoor temperatures are below 50 degrees Fahrenheit."

The team won the 2016 Secretary of the Army Energy and Water Management Award in the Energy Efficiency/Energy Management category.

ARL; the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command; and Aberdeen Proving Ground's Directorate of Public Works combined to complete the project under a tight deadline, said Thomas Kendall, technical director of the ARL's DOD Supercomputer Resource Center.

"Over time, more of the supercomputers being installed in Building 120 will be able to run off the water-cooled system. It was designed for future years," Kendall said. "New supercomputer systems are being designed to use water for over 99 percent of their cooling demands."

ARL anticipates to acquire and install new supercomputing systems every two years through the life cycle of the chilled-water cooling plant, Reese said.

"The system makes use of an onsite well to further reduce its operating cost. Without the combined efforts of ARL Environmental Team, DPW and the City of Aberdeen Water Company, the well would not have been an option," Reese said.

Daniela Caughron, a facility program manager with RDECOM, said this effort is part of the larger Army strategy to implement energy-saving projects at its installations.

The Army has started 127 projects at 52 installations that now exceed $1 billion, Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning announced Aug. 11, 2016.

"On our installations, and wherever we maintain and train our force, the Army is focused on finding the sweet spot between energy efficiency and energy security," Fanning said at the announcement.

Read more about the Army's energy-savings projects.

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to ensure decisive overmatch for unified land operations to empower the Army, the joint warfighter and our nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.


Last Update / Reviewed: October 24, 2016