Case Study

Department of Energy – National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL)

By August 21, 2019 June 28th, 2021 No Comments


The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) in Morgantown, WV needed a data center to house their new supercomputer system that would provide computer simulation modeling and speed the time to determine the impacts of different energy extraction methods and make CO2 storage safer and more effective. GIGA was contracted to build a data center on a concrete pad located in an outdoor area to support the 1 Megawatt of power envisioned for the supercomputer center. Being a Dept of Energy site, there was also a requirement for ultra-high efficiency in addition to support high-power racks for the High Performance Compute configuration. With James’ help, the DOE was about to achieve a new high score.

Modular Data Center - DOE - NETL


  • The site was an open area of concrete pad in between other buildings on the NETL Morgantown campus. The data center would need to fit within a 50’ x 70’ space.
  • Space constraints also meant there was limited space to put a chiller plant, so the data center would need to be highly efficient and utilize free-cooling when possible.
  • Only medium voltage service (4,180V) was possible to the data center, so transformation would also need to be considered within the area to step-down the voltage for use within the rack cabinets.
  • A target PUE of 1.25 was required due to the Federal government’s stipulation to ensure all new data centers were more efficient, and as this was going to be the property of the Dept of Energy.
  • Located in Morgantown, WV.


  • The modular data center design enabled building the data center directly onto the concrete pad and occupy 40’ x 60’ of the available space.
  • Removing the need for a chiller plant was done by using adiabatic cooling in the enclosed cold aisles and creating a single, centralized enclosed hot aisle for better venting.
  • The enclosure was designed to handle a wide range of power configuration requirements, allowing the customer to test and refine newer platform levels.
  • During cooler months, the cool outside air is brought in through the HEPA filters for free cooling, and in warmer months, the air is brought into the adiabatic cooling mixing chamber to bring the cold aisle temperature into the designated range of 78°F to 83°F. This greatly increases efficiency and reduces water use by 95% compared to typical chiller plants.
  • The completed data center gave the customer all the power density it needed to support the SGI racks of HPC equipment, over 16kW per cabinet with an upper limit of 30kW per cabinet.
  • The data center also achieved world class efficiency with an average annual PUE of 1.06 – surpassing the set objective.

See the DoE NETL Modular Data Center here (