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Typical facilities may be squandering around £24,000 per year in lost energy, warns Mike Meyer, Sales Director at 8 Solutions, a

specialist at increasing efficiency and mitigating the risk of down time in critical facilities.

Datacentres house technology that generates a huge amount of heat and requires equally-large amounts of cooling to limit the impact on data integrity or loss of functionality. But cooling solutions cost money, require energy, and need to be efficient. Our research suggests that some datacentres are producing four times more cooling than is required, primarily because they are failing to manage airflow correctly.

As new IT equipment is added to datacentres, the solution to maintain the correct temperature is usually to increase cooling by supplying further cold air capacity to the environment. But most datacentres already have sufficient capacity available – it’s simply that too much of the current cold air is being wasted, and, critically, not enough is being directed to the IT systems installed.

“Datacentres can make

average energy savings of £48

per metre sq per annum.”

In audits of the airflow completed by 8 Solutions at more than a dozen datacentres over the last 12 months, we found that in almost every case, the centres were producing more cooled air than was needed. This seemed to confirm a report two years ago by Upsite Technologies in the US that identified 45 datacentres who were doing much the same thing.

The IT equipment in a datacentre should be kept at a temperature of 27 degrees centigrade in order to run at optimum level, but our audits suggest that many datacentres are producing nearly four times more cooled airflow than is needed.

Unsealed firewalls that allow cooled air to escape and unsealed cable cut outs releasing cooled air into inappropriate areas are partly to blame, as is the poor management of hot/cold aisles, including having grilles located within the hot aisles, and IT equipment installed in reverse. Other factors include an inappropriate mix of cooled air and hot air and an incorrect airflow balance between supply (installed capacity) and demand (IT equipment).

With better airflow management, datacentres can make average energy savings of £48 per metre sq per annum, so a typical 500m2 datacentre can save £24,000 a year and show an improvement in power usage effectiveness (PUE). This gives a return on investment (ROI) of between 12-24 months.

Something as simple as installing blanking panels as a first line of defence can have an immediate impact on controlling air temperatures. In tests recently conducted in the US, one firm found that by installing 1200u of blanking panels for a 400ft2

of raised floor, it

realised a drop in temperature that enabled one of the air conditioning units to be switched off, and achieved an ROI in only four months.

8 Solutions has completed a number of air cooling projects over the past few months. A typical example includes a project recently completed within a large-scale datacentre co- location provider. It had some issues


with respect to hot spots within the hall and some ‘stranded capacity’ (meaning areas that can’t be used for a number of factors) with cooling.

They were in the process of designing and tendering for the installation of additional cooling units into the 2000m2

single hall.

The hall already had more than 50 air-conditioner units installed on the perimeter walls. Our suggestion was to create more precise airflow paths and to slow the velocity of the air down, as opposed to adding additional units and cold air.

We went about the basics of eliminating as much bypass and wrap-around air as possible by sealing holes in the floors and in the bases of the racks. We added some blanking panels to ensure continued rows and also added end of aisle doors where needed in lower density areas.

This goes against the ‘norm’ for lower density racks as they usually sit outside of contained aisles. We know, however, that if the lower density racks aren’t harvesting the cold air supplied from the grilles to the cold aisle, then the air at the end of the rows wraps around into walks ways where cooling isn’t required.

The second part of our design was to install new precision directional airflow floor grilles into the raised access floor, which enabled us to reduce the number of grilles in the floor by around 40%. These grilles reduce the CFM (air flow rate) through the grille by around 50%, depending on the static pressures in the floor void. In addition to slowing the air down they angle the airflow toward the server rack to significantly improve energy efficiency and reduce

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