Nautilus Lines Up $50 Million to Build More Water-Cooled Data Centers – Data Center Frontier

A row of water-cooled server cabinets in the Nautilus Data Technologies data center in Stockton, Calif. (Image: Nautilus Data)

Nautilus Data Technologies continues to raise funds to pursue its vision for water-cooled data centers in new second-tier markets. The developer is issuing $50 million in convertible notes to support data center construction, and said investor UIL Limited has closed on the first $10 million of the notes. Another $40 million of the notes – debt instruments which can be converted to stock – will be issued before the close of 2021, the company said.

Nautilus Data Technologies taps rivers, lakes and oceans to slash the cost of cooling servers. The Nautilus design uses prefabricated data modules and a water-cooled rear-door cooling unit, a combination that offers exceptional energy efficiency.

The company is also bringing data centers to new markets, as seen in its first two projects:

  • A 7-megawatt data vessel floating on the San Joaquin River in Stockton, Calif. The multi-tenant colocation facility is now operating with a handful of customers.
  • A $300 million data center project in Maine that taps a reservoir to create a gravity-fed cooling system for high performance computing. The Maine facility will use the topography of a former paper mill in Millinocket in a gravity-fed design that reduces the need to use energy for pumps.

The funding announced today will help fund additional projects Nautilus is pursuing across the globe. The company raised $35 million through 2019, including an investment Singapore’s Keppel Group. Over the past year, Nautilus has accelerated its financing efforts. In May 2020, it closed a $100 million debt facility with Orion Energy Partners, an experienced investor in the energy sector. In December, it took on an equity investment from Mancal Corporation, a Canadian energy company.

UIL Limited is based in Bermuda, and invests in a broad range of themes, including utility & infrastructure, financial services, mining and resources, mobility and technology.

“Data centers consume 200 terawatt hours and 250 trillion liters of drinking water per year,” said Duncan Saville, the Chairman of ICM Limited, UIL Limited’s investment manager. “Nautilus uses 80% less cooling power, reduces CO2 emissions by 30%, and consumes no potable water. We like the investment return potential, and we love the sustainability benefits.”

“We are excited to have UIL lead,” said James L. Connaughton, CEO of Nautilus Data Technologies. “With our first data center commissioned in Stockton, California, projects in development in the US, Europe and Asia, a global project development and construction partnership with Bechtel, and an expanded and deeply experience leadership team, we are poised for growth directly and through joint-venture partners globally.”

Nautilus began with a focus on data centers on barges, but expects to deploy future systems on both land and water. Its TRUE cooling system – short for Total Resource Usage Effectiveness – reflects the company’s belief that efficiency goes beyond power, and that water management is critically important for future data centers. The company expects to deliver a PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness) of 1.15 or lower, a range typical of the largest hyperscale operators.

By using a rear door cooling unit, Nautilus can support unusual density, allowing customers to get more data center capacity per square foot of real estate. Nautilus says its water cooling system can support workloads at up to 100 kilowatts a rack, compared to the current average of about 8 kW per rack. That enables new deployment footprints for high-performance computing (HPC) uses like AI, as well as applications for remote learning and other high-density applications.

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