Because of the rapid growth in the number of data centers combined with the high density heat dissipation in the IT and telecommunications equipment, energy efficient thermal management of data centers has become a key research focus in the electronics packaging community. Traditional legacy data centers still rely largely on chilled air flow delivered to the IT equipment racks through perforated tiles from the raised floor plenum. When there is large variation in the amount of heat dissipated by the racks in a given aisle, the standard air cooling approach requires over-provisioning.

Localized hybrid air-water cooling is one approach to more effectively control the cooling when there is wide variation in the amount of dissipation in neighboring racks. In a closed hybrid air-water cooled server cabinet, the generated heat is removed by a self-contained system that does not interact with the room level air cooling system. In this study, a comprehensive procedure for CFD validation in a close coupled hybrid cooled enclosed cabinet is described. The commercial enclosure has been characterized experimentally in an earlier study, where the effectiveness values were applied as boundary conditions to the compact heat exchanger model.

Here, the previously obtained experimental data are used to validate the results from computational modeling. Two cases with different air flow rates are compared. Very good agreement is achieved, with the maximum overall average error less than 4%. Due to relatively high pressure inside the cabinet, it is possible that air leakage from the cabinet may be responsible for the discrepancy between the model and experimental results. A sensitivity study was applied to the validated model to investigate the effect leakage had on the cabinet’s performance.

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