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Rethinking Cooling Design In the Data Centre

Neil Yule, President at Munters Data Centres, discusses how data centre cooling is evolving to meet the industry’s focus on energy efficiency…

The amount of energy needed for cooling the world’s data centres is huge and is expected to triple over the next 10 years, both in terms of cost and in environmental impact. 30 to 40% of energy consumption in a typical data centre is attributed to cooling. Thermal loads inside data centres and electronic enclosures must be managed efficiently, so it is critical for data centre operators to use solutions that minimise energy consumption.

New products are pushing the cooling boundaries by offering not only an energy efficient system using the latest fan and heat exchanger technologies but also solutions that can be scaled and optimised for various building designs.

These can include single or multi-storey facilities with various deployments such as perimeter, rooftop, gantry rooftops, as well as other factors such as regional hot and humid climates and locations.

When selecting cooling systems, data centre managers and engineers should first consider what type of technology they desire. If they are interested in energy efficient cooling products and opt for evaporative cooling they have two options available, indirect or direct.

Indirect is highly suited to areas where there are external influences and contaminants such as air pollution from airports, crops, smog, insects and industrial emissions. Indirect solutions keep the air in a closed loop and never mix the flow with these potentially damaging factors.

With indirect evaporative cooling, a secondary (scavenger) air stream is cooled by water. The cooled secondary air stream goes through a heat exchanger, where it cools the primary air stream. The cooled primary air stream is circulated by a blower.

Such low-energy indirect evaporative cooling solutions can be designed to be scalable for future growth, to tackle tropical climates, local air pollution, multi-storey data halls, and to meet specific shipping requirements.

With savings up to 75% in energy costs, compared to water-cooled chillers with CRAHs, this energy efficient solution can also lead to massive savings in infrastructure and space.

Looking specifically at the APAC region, the issues faced are a combination of land availability, air pollution and choice of cooling solutions. Data centre priorities in this region also tend to be focused on energy efficiency; availability (power connectivity and uptime) and total cost. Following this, M&E capacity and security and control are key considerations.

Other factors include dealing with humidity and tropical climates, air pollution and the ability to increase scalability ranging from modular to hyperscale data centres.

Configurable systems available today are able to satisfy all of these concerns. The latest cooling solutions are not only energy efficient but can also be applied to most installation types including multi-level high rise buildings for built up areas.

In addition, these technologies can also free up electrical power for core business and increase the available electrical power by up to 37%. Operators can thus efficiently maximise the load within the data hall.

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