Waste heat recoveries in data centers: A review

Xiaolei Yuan*, yumin Liang, Xinyi Hu, Yizhe Xu, Yongbao Chen, Risto Kosonen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
9 Downloads (Pure)


Data centers (DCs) uninterruptedly run 24/24 h, 365 days per year with much huge operating scale, and have the characteristics of high operation safety requirement, high heat flux density, high energy consumption and high carbon emission. They are influential energy consumers and carbon emitters in building or even global energy sectors (around 3% of global energy consumption), who are also significant waste heat producer (e.g., waste heat from year-round uninterrupted operation of IT equipment and cooling system). Huge energy consumption has increased the burden on the global energy industry, while carbon and direct waste heat emissions have also caused great damages to the outdoor environment. Thus, it is critical to improve the energy efficiency in DCs and to realize the energy conservations and environmental deterioration alleviation. Waste heat recovery technology is considered as a promising approach to improve energy efficiency, achieve energy and energy cost savings, and mitigate environmental impacts (caused by both carbon emission and waste heat discharge) at the same time. This article conducts a comprehensive review on recovering waste heat from all kind of sources (e.g., exhaust air, circulating water, and coolants) in DCs for various energy uses (e.g., heating supply, district heating supplement, cooling and electricity productions, and industrial/agricultural production process) and different application
scenarios (e.g., office buildings, comprehensive energy community and residential buildings), while the future research and development proposals for DC waste heat recoveries are given through technical, energy, environmental and economic analysis.
Original languageEnglish
Article number113777
Number of pages17
JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023
MoE publication typeA2 Review article, Literature review, Systematic review


  • Data centers
  • Waste heat recovery
  • Heating supply
  • District heating supplement
  • Cooling supply
  • Electricity production


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