Are we ready to abandon mechanical cooling in the data center?

Recently, Green DataCenter News published an article called “Are we ready to abandon mechanical cooling in the data center?”. The article points out two criticisms of free cooling systems that could lead to server failure:

  • Their delivered temperature limits may allow legacy IT to overheat
  • Introducing fresh air to the data center creates vulnerability to air quality events like fires

Some compressor-less cooling approaches overcome these limitations, while still supporting PUEs below 1.2 in any climate. An evaporative-enhanced Indirect Air-Side Economizer (IASE) processing 95F return and delivering cooling near the ambient wet bulb temperature can easily provide these features for a data center set point of 75F/60%rh that is occasionally allowed to flex up to 80F-84F. In climates like the Mid-Atlantic, the Midwest, and monsoonal parts of the Southwest, these flex periods would total only 100-200 hours annually and about 1500 hours in saunas like the Gulf Coast.

Since an indirect arrangement decouples the sensible IT load from outdoor humidity, dehumidification capacity and energy needed to maintain 60%rh is negligible. If set point flex is not acceptable, cheap DX can provide the necessary trim without compromising annual savings and still slash peak power demand and attendant infrastructure.

This level of performance is new to purely indirect evaporative cooling, requiring advanced multi-staged thermodynamics—like our unique, patented and revolutionary cooling technology, the Maisotsenko Cycle—that are not limited to the wet bulb approach of wheels and towers and are capable of generating temperatures near ambient dew point.

The good news is that Coolerado has made these systems commercially available and deployed throughout the world for many years.

Regarding the observation that data center cooling set points should accommodate their weakest legacy components—that’s similar to setting your home thermostats at 35F so you can store raw meat on the kitchen counter. Thankfully, we’ve all discovered a strategy that isn’t so wasteful.

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