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Too hot to handle (indirect free cooling processes)

Image: Adobe Stock / Connect world

Record temperatures in the Nordics are set to pose a threat to indirect free cooling processes, according to Aggreko. And if the temperatures in the UK right now are anything to go by, we can well believe it *melts onto desk.*

Recent record temperatures in the Nordics have re-emphasised the need for greater control of conditions in data centres’ indirect free cooling processes if facilities are to avoid corrosion issues.

Figures from Finland’s meteorological institute published last week, demonstrated record temperatures of over 30 degrees in June, with several Swedish regions also reporting similarly hot, record-breaking weather.

According to Aggreko, the popularity of indirect free cooling in this region due to its normally colder climate means data centre operators will need to be wary of higher moisture levels that may ensue within facilities due to warmer ambient air.

“Data centres are instrumental to modern life, so it is absolutely vital that the conditions within facilities are tightly controlled and disruption avoided at all costs,” says Greger Ruud, sector development manager – Nordic data centres at Aggreko.

“However, the recent heatwaves reported in Sweden and Finland could affect the data centre environment, and lead to issues with components such as electrical distribution systems, which must be kept dry and within a certain temperature.

“This is because the incoming ambient air that is usually filtered and passed through facilities is warmer and could therefore carry more moisture than usual.

“Considering that the filtration process can already add as much as four degrees to this air before entering the data centre, owners and operators need to be aware of this pressing issue.

“Not addressing this concern may result in long-term damage that could affect facility performance and lead to voided warranties, which are clearly situations that must be avoided.”

Cooling equipment, including chillers and dry coolers, can be implemented to offset rising temperatures resulting from warmer ambient air.

However, with Covid likely to have strained capex budgets and solutions only required during intermittent hotter weather, permanent solutions may be too costly considering they would stand idle for long periods.

As such, the use of temporary solutions on a hired basis may present an attractive option for addressing sporadic, weather-based concerns.

“The Nordics’ colder climate means that free cooling can be utilised for approximately 95% of the year, but questions arise in data centre construction when we consider how to adjust for the remaining 5%,” explains Greger.

“As the region continues to experience ever-rising temperatures in the summer months, it is therefore vital that contractors consider this growing concern.

“Yet it must be noted that these periods of warmer weather will remain the exception, not the norm. Because of this, purchasing permanent equipment that will go unused for long stretches may not be the most prudent or cost-effective strategy.

“Consequently, making use of temporary solutions as part of a more reactive strategy to changing conditions may therefore help owners and operators avoid risks associated with buying cooling solutions outright.”

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