Global Cooling

Friday 13th February 2009 •
Billy Law-Bregan, Communications Officer

Continuing the Green theme from the last post, I’d like to explain a bit about how our new air conditioning system gives us the best possible combination of performance, resilience, economy and flexibility.

Our Leeds site makes use of a technology called free cooling. Well it’s not quite free (these things cost hundreds of thousands of pounds) but it is a highly efficient way of taking advantage of one of the main features of the UK climate. It’s cold most of the time!

Whenever the outside temperature is less than the temperature of the water coming back from the data centre, we don’t actively cool the water in our chillers. We let the atmosphere do the work for us. So for most day of the year (and pretty much every night) our chillers are doing very little work, but if it does get hot, they kick in to keep the air cool.

For resilience, each room has pairs of air conditioning units that are fed from different chillers. There is enough capacity to keep the rooms cool even if we lost ½ of the air con infrastructure. We also run the fans from the UPS system to keep the air moving at all times, even during a power failure.

In addition to all this, we are cutting the fan speeds needed to pressurise the raised floor void by using baffles under the floor space to direct cold air where it is needed. We can vary the fan speeds and the input temperatures to precisely control the conditions within the cold aisles. We are making use of Thermal Imaging technology to map our data centre airflow and temperature distribution to ensure the best possible environment for your equipment.

All in all we are doing everything we can to reduce our energy costs and carbon emissions. This is something we can pass on to our customers and, when carbon taxes start to take hold it could add up to some quite significant savings.

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