How Chilled Water Cooling Helps Sustainability & Availability Goals
Whilst the data centre industry continues to develop larger and more powerful data centres to meet capacity demands, at the same time it is designing and operating facilities with the aim of significantly reducing the impact it has on the environment. Cooling systems, and in particular, chilled water systems can play an important role in meeting these ambitions.
Reducing the Impact on the Environment
Chilled water systems have a reduced impact on the environment; they have a limited overall refrigerant charge per kilowatt (kW) of cooling and in some cases, the refrigerant may not even be required as with data centres located in cold climates where heat is released through dry coolers or cooling towers. They also use a range of refrigerants to limit the impact on the atmosphere, including hydrofluoroolefin (HFO) and HFO-blended refrigerants which have a much lower Global Warming Potential (GWP) than traditional refrigerants, and are likely to become more common as the industry evolves.
An added indirect sustainable benefit of a cooling system is linked to the amount of electricity needed to run it. Today’s chilled water systems, have the potential to support partial power usage effectiveness (pPUE) values lower than 1.1 by using several optimisation strategies such as freecooling technologies.
An Evolving Solution
Chilled water cooling has the potential to deliver even more efficiencies and greater benefits to providers. For example, over the past few years, ASHRAE has increased the recommended operating temperature of data centre equipment up to 27OC – allowing subsequent increases to the water temperatures within chilled water systems and enabling an extended use of freecooling chillers, even in countries or climates where freecooling was not previously feasible. As explored above, freecooling technology has an important advantage as it does not require the activation of the compressor.
Adiabatic technology can also improve the efficiency of a chilled-water system. In these solutions, the ambient air is cooled down by passing through wet pads. The air is then delivered at a lower temperature, achieving a higher freecooling capacity of the chiller and a more efficient operation of the compressor. The core of this solution is the onboard controller of the unit: it enables the use of water whenever strictly needed, according either to redundancy, efficiency or cooling demand needs.
More improvements to data centre efficiency can be made through the optimisation of chilled-water systems controls. Chilled plant manager technology can coordinate the operation of all the units and main components of the chilled-water solution. It allows an integration and coordination of the working mode between units and the main components, enabling improved efficiencies and performance at partial loads or, in the unlikely event of failure, finding the best way to react and grant cooling continuity to the system.
Minimising Direct and Indirect Emissions
Today’s chilled water systems help minimise direct emissions by limiting the amount of refrigerant used compared to other technologies and enabling the use of new, greener refrigerant types available in the market. These systems also reduce indirect emissions by optimising the operating mode to lower energy consumption.
With such a focus on reaching net zero, data centre providers must rely on new technologies to meet the requirements of both today and tomorrow.
To learn more about chilled water systems and the benefits they bring to data centre applications, download the free white paper “How Chilled Water Systems Meet Data Centre Availability and Sustainability Goals”.
Guest blog by Andrea Moscheni, Thermal Management
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