The perpetual increase of data processing has led to an ever increasing need for power and in turn to greater cooling challenges. High density (HD) IT loads have necessitated more aggressive and direct approaches of cooling as opposed to the legacy approach by the utilization of row-based cooling. In-row cooler systems are placed between the racks aligned with row orientation; they offer cool air to the IT equipment more directly and effectively. Following a horizontal airflow pattern and typically occupying 50% of a rack’s width; in-row cooling can be the main source of cooling in the data center or can work jointly with perimeter cooling. Another important development is the use of containment systems since they reduce mixing of hot and cold air in the facility. Both in-row technology and containment can be combined to form a very effective cooling solution for HD data centers.

This current study numerically investigates the behavior of in-row coolers in cold aisle containment (CAC) vs. perimeter cooling scheme. Also, we address the steady state performance for both systems, this includes manufacturer’s specifications such as heat exchanger performance and cooling coil capacity.

A brief failure scenario is then run, and duration of ride through time in the case of row-based cooling system failure is compared to raised floor perimeter cooling with containment. Non-raised floor cooling schemes will reduce the air volumetric storage of the whole facility (in this small data center cell it is about a 20% reduction). Also, the varying thermal inertia between the typical in-row and perimeter cooling units is of decisive importance.

The CFD model is validated using a new data center laboratory at Binghamton University with perimeter cooling. This data center consists of one main Liebert cooling unit, 46 perforated tiles with 22% open area, 40 racks distributed on three main cold aisles C and D. A computational slice is taken of the data center to generalize results. Cold aisle C consists of 16 rack and 18 perforated tiles with containment installed. In-row coolers are then added to the CFD model. Fixed IT load is maintained throughout the simulation and steady state comparisons are built between the legacy and row-based cooling schemes. An empirically obtained flow curve method is used to capture the flow-pressure correlation for flow devices.

Performance scenarios were parametrically analyzed for the following cases: (a) Perimeter cooling in CAC, (b) In-row cooling in CAC. Results showed that in-row coolers increased the efficiency of supply air flow utilization since the floor leakage was eliminated, and higher pressure build up in CAC were observed. This reduced the rack recirculation when compared to the perimeter cooled case. However, the heat exchanger size demonstrated the limitation of the in-row to maintain controlled set point at increased air flow conditions. For the pump failure scenario, experimental data provided by Emerson labs were used to capture the thermal inertia effect of the cooling coils for in-row and perimeter unit, perimeter cooled system proved to have longer ride through time.

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