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Airedale outlines cooling ambitions for specialised data centre team

Air conditioning specialist has outlined the upcoming efficiency developments it sees as key cooling focuses for its recently established European Data Centres Solutions Team

Airedale’s formation of a specialised European Data Centres Solutions Team is looking to support the development of practical lower GWP solutions and systems that can better match the operational efficiencies of adiabatic cooling, albeit with improved water conservation.

The company has said that it would be continuing to invest in system efficiency and a move away from adiabatic solutions over concerns about water demand when cooling servers that are a significant part of the overall energy demand required to securely store our data.

The decision to form its specialised data centre team is focused on the realising the concept of what the manufacturer calls ‘hyperscale data centres’, which are already a key part of the group’s UK operations. 

Airedale said, “A dedicated team gives us a platform to really laser focus on the needs of the industry and deploy our proven solutions across the continent.  We will focus on the strong development areas of France, Germany, Ireland and The Netherlands and also cover other areas of Europe.”

This hyperscale approach is intended to better realise economies of scale, particularly in the case of colocation data providers that operate in large-scale facilities, according to Airedale.

The company added, “This business model relies on scale and efficiency, and for supply chain partners, the reward of long-term contracts has to be earned through the ability to match the ambitions of their customers.  Potential suppliers to the new breed of Colacation services must be able to accommodate large production volumes, be flexible in order to cope with changing demand and show engineering ingenuity in order to deliver solutions that push the envelope of what has gone before.”

Airedale added that an estimated 40 per cent to 50 per cent of energy consumed in data centres is related to cooling and highlighted the importance of achieving maximum efficiency through an estate.  In the case of colocation sites, where servers and hardware space can be rented by different organisations, free floorspace is seen as lost money.

The company added, “This means maximising server density and maximising the efficiency of indoor precision cooling equipment (CRACs) or removing them altogether by utilising fan walls in adjacent plant rooms.  Marginal gains are important in order to gain an edge in a competitive market.” 

Airedale said that there was growing pressure to ensure innovation in regards to how many kWs of cooling capacity can be reached in the smallest possible footprint.  This was leading to the development of new approaches to chilled water coils, optimised air allows and reduced air-side pressure drops.

The company added, “Further efficiencies can be gained through optimisation of set point, water and air temperatures in order to maximise free cooling and to avoid over-cooling the space.  A combination of intelligent system design, matched free cooling chillers and smart HVAC optimisation software can be used to achieve this.”

Fan walls were another development that was identified by the manufacturer as having growing prominence in data centres. This was particularly the case for technologies that are designed for a specific environment and that can form part of an intelligent system able to bridge the gap between air handling and precision cooling.  Cooling systems with fan walls were highlighted as a means of maximising air and water side conditions that can improve operating efficiency and provide free cooling functions.

Airedale said that it had been encouraged as a manufacturer by how colocation providers were happy to engage much closer with its staff and investing in technologies with a longer-term focus on potential benefits against capital expenditure and operating expense.

The company said, “This is a refreshing change from other sectors where contractors hold the power and will dilute specifications in order to screw down prices.  The perfect storm of a market in growth, healthy competition and a desire to improve is driving the industry to new levels which we can all benefit from.”

Shifting refrigerant demand was also highlighted by Airedale as an important part of its work alongside research into technical innovations.  The company said it was already focused on moving away from R410A to lower GWP alternatives such as R32. The group’s Azure range of technology was now able to efficiently operate with the refrigerant, which introduces a level of flammability classed at a lower level.

The manufacturer added, “This development work will continue with R32 and also other low GWP gases such as R513A and R1234ze, both of which are being used already on some of our chiller platforms.  We will continue to monitor the global refrigerant landscape with the ultimate aim being all our products utilising zero GWP gases.”

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