According to a newly published market study from BSRIA, hyperscale data centres like those of Apple, Google, and others, are increasingly open to implementing new cooling technologies.  

The study predicts that over the next five to 10 years, the use of traditional computer room air-conditioning (CRAC) units will drop as end users opt for other technologies like free cooling, liquid cooling and chilled water cooling. 

Already in Germany, the “Blauer Engel” (Blue Angel) label criteria have been revised to require data centres with cooling demands higher than 50kW to use natural refrigerant-based cooling systems or systems that do not require refrigerant. 

CO2 cuts energy use by 70% 

Carbon dioxide is gaining favour as a cooling medium in IT applications for a number of reasons: 

  • As opposed to water cooling, CO2 poses no danger to electrical equipment or cabling as it is electrically benign
  • CO2 has zero-ozone depleting potential combined with low toxicity
  • CO2 has seven times the cooling capacity of water per kilogram, reducing volume flows with smaller diameter distribution pipe work.

In September 2014, Bell Canada’s Ottowa facility became one of the first data centers to use an all-CO2 cooling system to protect its business-critical information. Canadian CO2 specialist Carnot Refrigeration worked closely with the telecommunications giant to develop the 105kW system that replaced an R22 system. 

Energy use at the facility has been cut by about 70%, partly though an innovative ‘free cooling’ process, patented as Aquilon, which uses cool outdoor air to cover some of the load. The technology has won numerous awards. 

Dürr thermea’s thermco2 CO2 high temperature heat pump technology is also applicable in data centres. The thermco2 HHR/HHS series HP has a cover heating capacity range from 45 to 1,100kW and refrigerating capacity from 40 to 830kW. The thermco2 HHR/HHS series can provide hot water up to 110°C and cool as low as -10°C. 

In the new STABILO Cube office building in Heroldsberg, Bavaria, which includes a 400m2 data centre, a combination of geothermal plant, a thermeco2 heat pump and free cooling is designed to maximise sustainability. Waste heat from the data centre is also used to fuel the energy cycle. 

Another thermeco2 installation at a data centre in Zurich uses heat-cold-coupling for server cooling and district heating, which has been awarded LEED Platinum certification. 

Beijing Topnew Info & Tech Co., Ltd recently introduced Carrier’s DataCO2MPLETE™ distributed cooling systems, using CO2 as refrigerant, in two large data centres in Beijing located in the Topnew International Tower and JinTan Building. With customised design for heat dissipation in the high-heat and high-density data centres, the system achieves energy savings of approximately 25% compared to conventional systems, and reduces the cost of initial investment and maintenance with higher equipment reliability


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Author Elke Milner