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Could hot girl summer disrupt indirect free cooling processes?

Image: Adobe Stock / Connect world

Well, not hot girl summer directly, but after the year we’ve all had, I do fully encourage all of our readers, male or female, to live their best lives this summer and look bloody brilliant doing it. But in seriousness, rising temperatures this summer could place facilities – particularly those based in the Nordics where indirect free cooling is popular – at risk of corrosion if conditions are not correctly controlled, says Aggreko.

According to a recent market report by Arizton, the Nordic region can facilitate up to 8,400 hours of data centre free cooling annually due to its colder climate. Though incoming ambient air is filtered before entering the controlled data centre environment, this process can result in temperature rises of two to four degrees.

When combined with rising summer temperatures, data centre sites may experience higher moisture levels that could lead to condensation forming and rising water temperatures.

Keeping key data centre components like electrical distribution systems dry and within a certain temperature band phase is crucial to ensuring its continued running.

According to Aggreko, not taking steps to account for changing temperatures during the construction phase could lead to long-term damage that could impair functionality and void warranties.

“The ability to use the climate as a resource to help free-cool facilities is one of many reasons the Nordics region appeals to organisations looking to construct data centres,” says Greger Ruud, sector development manager – Nordic data centres at Aggreko.

“However, it must be noted that like any other region, there are fluctuations in temperature depending on geography and the seasons, so conditions will occur that make free cooling more challenging.

“Site managers must therefore be aware that a rise in ambient air temperature will be reflected in the data centre environment, especially with filtration processes generating added heat. As such, plans should be put in place to cool facilities and maintain controlled conditions during the upcoming warmer months.”

Additional cooling solutions like chillers and dry coolers may be used to ensure controlled temperatures during warmer periods. But with this further cooling capacity only required for a short but critical time period, expensive new equipment bought for this purpose will likely be redundant for long stretches. An innovative strategic hire approach may therefore represent the best way of alleviating both financial and humidity risks.

“Optimum conditions for free cooling occur in the Nordics for the majority of the time, but crucially, not all of the time,” Greger concludes.

“These temporary conditions require a temporary response, so hiring data centre cooling equipment like chillers and dry chillers may appeal.

“Taking this approach can help site managers to alleviate damage risks without being shackled to expensive, permanent equipment that will not require year-round use.

“With Covid continuing to constrain budgets in all sectors, this freedom can allow contractors to be more dynamic as pandemic-enforced social restrictions are loosened and demand rises further.”

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