As 200th Installation Announced, Direct-Air Evaporative Cooling Becomes Mainstream

EcoCooling, the leaders in direct-air evaporative cooling today revealed they have completed their 200th data centre cooling installation using the energy saving technology.

 

“Using CRECs (computer room evaporative coolers) instead of the conventional CRAC units (computer room air conditioning units) can save over 90 per cent of the energy needed to cool a data centre,” said EcoCooling managing and technical director Alan Beresford, “we are very pleased to announce Serve The World as the 200th data centre to adopt this solution at its 600kW Oslo facility in Norway.”

 

Data centre engineers are by nature very cautious and it has taken a number of years for the CREC cooling to be accepted as a safe and reliable alternative to expensive refrigeration-based CRAC cooling. Serve The World now joins a list of highly respected data centre operators able to operate with PUEs (power utilisation effectiveness) of 1.2 or less regardless of the level of occupancy in the data centre.

 

Other data centres which have grasped the power and cost saving EcoCooling CREC cooling technology include Insurance company Unum, UK telecoms companies BT and TalkTalk, public sector organisations Humberside police and Warwickshire County Council plus colocation specialist Capgemini, as well as Cambridge University and RNLI (the Royal Naval Lifeboat Institute)

 

Within the 200 installations there are data centres with power consumptions from 10kW to 1MW. For a 1MW installation the EcoCooling CREC solution would require only around 40kW of power compared to as much as 1000kW with conventional CRAC cooling. This saves the cost and infrastructure for 960 kW of power.

 

Aberdeen University Data Centre – cooled by EcoCooling CRECs has been awarded Data Centre Project of the Year in the BCS & Computing UK IT Industry Awards – covering the UK’s entire IT industry. Aberdeen beat off competition from Tesco, Capital One and the NHS.  A number of best practices including the deployment of EcoCooling CRECs has led to a PUE of less than 1.1.

 

EcoCooling’s direct-air cooled data centre projects are spread far and wide beyond the UK with installations also in New Zealand., Germany, Ireland and the latest Norway-based Serve the World.

 

Explaining how the CREC technology works, Beresford said, “in temperate climates there are up to 365 days every year when so-called ‘free cooling’ can be employed. On a fair proportion of these days it is simply enough to pass air from outside through the data centre servers and other active equipment at a suitable rate and no cooling of that external air is needed at all. On the remaining days, it is sufficient to use a very simple technique of water evaporation which takes heat out of the incoming air and cools it sufficiently to cool an entire data centre.”

 

“Concerns of data centre engineers about the use of fresh air in data centres have not materialised.  With over five years operational experience and research data now available from these 200 installations the EcoCooling CREC design principles and process controls have proven to provide a resilient and efficient cooling system. I think the list of major players that have fully researched the topic and have then implemented EcoCooling technology demonstrates that data centre engineers can now consider this power saving technology as being fully ‘of age’,” Beresford concluded.

 

Data Centres Could Experience 30 Per Cent More Failures as Temperatures Increase

Alan Beresford EcoCooling Managing DirectorMany data centre operators have been increasing the operating temperature in their data centres to reduce the massive costs of cooling.  But, warns Alan Beresford, technical director and md with EcoCooling – they run the risk of significantly more failures.

ASHRAE (the American Society of Heating and Refrigeration Engineers) is generally considered to set the standards globally for data centre cooling. A few years ago it relaxed its recommended operating range for data servers from 20-25C (Celsius) to 18-27C.

“For decades,” said Beresford, “data centres have operated at a 20-21C temperature. With the relaxation in the ASHRAE 2011 recommendation plus the pressure to cut costs – data centres have begun to significantly increase the ‘cold aisle’ temperature to 24-25C and in some cases right up to 27C.

“But many of them have not taken into account the study of server reliabilities detailed in the ASHRAE 2001 Thermal Guidelines for Data Processing Environments – which predicts that if the cold aisle temperature is increased from 20C to 25C, the level of failures increases by a very significant 24%. Upping the temperature to 27.5C increases the failure rates by a massive 34 per cent.

Warns Beresford: “And if the air temperature going into the front of the servers is 27C it’s going to be very hot (34-37C) coming out of the rear. For blade servers it can be a blistering 42C at the rear!

“It’s not just the servers that can fail,” states Beresford, “at the rear of the servers are electric supply cables, power distribution units and communication cables. Most of these are simply not designed to work at such elevated temperatures and are liable to early mortality.”

Interestingly, again according to ASHRAE’s published figures, if the temperature is reduced to 17C – the server reliability is improved by 13 per cent compared to conventional 20C operations.

“To cool the air to 17C would be completely uneconomic with conventional refrigeration cooling,” said Beresford, “our modelling shows it would require over 500kW kilowatts of electricity for every megawatt of IT equipment.

“However, with our evaporative direct air cooling CRECs (Computer Room Evaporative Coolers), this 17C operation would require
less than 40kW kilowatts – a saving of over 450kW compared to conventional refrigeration and a reduction of PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness) of 0.45.

When given the option of cooling a data centre with refrigeration at 27C compared with evaporative cooling at 17C at less than 10% of the energy use, 40% less temperature related server failures and a more stable environment for other components it is clear why over 150 UK data center operators have adopted this approach.

Alan Beresford has prepared an informative webinar explaining how evaporative cooling works and why it uses so little energy compared to conventional refrigeration. To watch it visit http://turt.co/dcme12

Beresford adds a final point, “when Engineers and technicians are working on servers, it’s usually at the rear where all the connections are. If they are going to have to work regularly in temperatures of 34C to 42C there might be health issues to consider too. Keeping their working environment under 30C is a far more acceptable solution.”

To find out more about EcoCooling CRECs visit www.ecocooling.org