Stopping heat from racking up in data-centres
If you’ve ever pushed your PC or mobile phone to the limits of its performance you’ll know just how hot computer equipment can get. That’s nothing, however, compared to the incredible volumes of heat generated by computer servers in large data-centres.
A single blade server can release 4 kW of energy as heat. That alone is more than many domestic ovens but no data-centre houses just a single server. Larger data-centres can house thousands – generating heat on an industrial scale.
Unlike an oven the heat can’t stay – it would melt the delicate (and expensive) computer equipment and destroy potentially invaluable data. This is why computer room air-conditioning (CRAC) units are a priority consideration for consultants designing data-centres.
Piped Approach: Cooling water/refrigerant/glycol
There are many approaches to cooling the servers in a data-centre – including many that are comparatively exotic like full submersion in specialist cooling fluids. Most large scale data-centres, however, use a CRAC to cool air and force this air into a cold aisle between racks. This air is then pulled through the server racks carrying the heat from the computer equipment into a hot aisle and ultimately back into the CRAC.
How the CRAC distributes its own heat is a different issue. Many rely on piped water that has been chilled elsewhere while others use the same approach but substitute glycol for water. Still other data-centres incorporate some or all of the refrigeration system within the CRAC itself.
What all of these systems have in common is the need to pipe heat away. These pipes must always be insulated to prevent this excess heat energy returning to the server room. In general these pipes will also be operating at below ambient temperatures and may experience condensation.
Kaiflex insulation, with an in-built water vapour barrier and fibre dust free nature, is an ideal choice for both minimising energy loss and preventing the formation of condensation.
Ducted Approach: Cooling air
Not all data-centres pipe heat out of a server room – some use ductwork to extract heated air instead. As with pipework carrying chilled water into or rejected heat out of the server room, this ductwork must also be insulated to save energy and prevent condensation.
Insulating this ductwork presents particular challenges. Since the air carried must not introduce pollution or contaminants into the server room, insulating this ductwork presents its own challenges.
Kaiflex, as a closed cell foam that can’t emit dust or fibres, is ideally suited for use in a data-centre environment. Like all thermal insulation materials Kaiflex minimises energy loss but Kaiflex also excels at preventing the formation of condensation – an essential function for any ductwork carrying cooler air into the server rooms.