The world runs on data, so data centers run the world. From vital transactions and critical communications to streaming everyday entertainment, everything we do in the modern world depends on data. From traditional institutions like banks to rebel cryptocurrency exchanges, the entire financial world depends on data. Even supposedly unplugged hobbies like gardening or woodcrafts intersect with data in the form of instruction videos and social media.
With the increasingly central role of big data in all aspects of business and life, the demand for data centers continues to grow exponentially. As these data centers run day and night, they must remain cool to keep operating, which means that the cooling needs for data centers are also growing.
Kuul evaporative cooling media can help you supply necessary cooling to data centers safely and at a fraction of the cost of mechanical cooling systems like air conditioning.
Power usage effectiveness (PUE) measures how efficiently a data center uses energy. Since energy is one of the main operating costs of a data center, PUE, in real terms, measures profitability and competitiveness.
To calculate PUE, you take the total energy a facility uses, divided by the energy used for computing. Thus, an ideal PUE – where all energy is used for computing – is 1. Anything over 1 is energy overhead.
Industrywide, the current average PUE is 1.8, which means that nearly half of the energy used by a data center is overhead, and most of that overhead is used for cooling. More efficient cooling can help data centers be more cost-effective and profitable.
There are multiple approaches to cooling data centers. We can divide them into two main categories:
Typically, the temperature control and other environmental needs of a data center are so complex that they rely on a combination of direct cooling and indirect cooling.
Kuul Evolution™ evaporative media is a premier line of specialized evaporative media that provides enhanced cooling performance and reduced pressure drop due to the choice of materials, design process and proprietary manufacturing technique.Download (.pdf)
In direct cooling, cooling systems directly cool the air that is used in the data center. The most common approach for direct cooling is evaporative cooling.
Evaporative cooling works by running hot air through evaporative media. Evaporative media is similar in concept to a sponge – it absorbs and holds water. Evaporative media lets air pass through, and as the hot air contacts the water in the media, the water evaporates. Evaporating water takes energy from the air, which cools the air.
Direct evaporative cooling offers many benefits:
Direct evaporative cooling is the most energy-efficient cooling method available. It uses ¼ as much power as mechanical air conditioning units. At the same time, direct evaporative coolers can easily draw in large amounts of air and cool it rapidly, dropping the temperature by 30° F instantly. Evaporative cooling adds moisture to the air, which can be especially useful in dry climates. Because direct cooling is constantly drawing in outdoor air to cool, it is always supplying fresh air.
However, there are some disadvantages of direct evaporative cooling, including:
Direct evaporative cooling always adds moisture to the air, even if it exceeds ideal humidity. In addition, direct evaporative cooling is limited in the degree of cooling it can provide. It only drops the air temperature to a certain point, determined by the starting temperature and humidity of the source air.
Because of these limitations, some operators prefer to use direct cooling for personnel areas, the shell around the server rooms, or as a stage 1 cooling system. However, direct evaporative cooling is becoming an increasingly popular approach for data centers looking to run efficiently.
Indirect cooling uses a heat exchanger to cool the air. The room air never mixes with the substance used to cool it.
In indirect evaporative cooling, evaporative coolers are used to create cool air that goes through a heat exchanger, where it absorbs heat from the room air, cooling it. The warmed air might be exhausted or re-cooled, depending on the setup.
Another setup for indirect evaporative cooling moistens the tubes in a heat exchanger, then runs outdoor air over the tubes, evaporating the water from the tubes and cooling them.
In indirect mechanical cooling, commonly known as air conditioning, an expansion valve lets the pressure of a refrigerant drop, which causes the temperature to drop as well. The cooled refrigerant runs through the heat exchanger, picking up heat from the room air. Then a condenser increases the pressure, essentially concentrating the heat, which makes it more efficient to eliminate. The heated refrigerant goes through a second heat exchanger so that it can export heat outdoors. Once much of the heat is eliminated, the refrigerant re-enters the expansion valve to continue the cycle.
Indirect cooling offers some benefits:
Indirect cooling can reliably achieve lower temperatures than direct cooling, especially with mechanical cooling.
Water from the air condenses on the coils of the heat exchanger in an indirect cooler. This lets indirect coolers remove moisture from the air to achieve lower humidity.
Because the room air is not mixing with the cooling substances, the room air remains isolated. This helps avoid contamination of server rooms and other sensitive areas.
Indirect cooling has some disadvantages, however. The main disadvantage is that it is less efficient, especially when mechanical cooling is the primary or sole source of cooling.
Kuul evaporative media is an advanced technology approach to evaporative cooling. Kuul evaporative media is an optimal choice for data center cooling because it is:
These benefits make for a safer, more profitable data center cooling solution.
Kuul Evolution FirePro™ evaporative cooling media meets strict UL 900 standards. FirePro evaporative media are made of flame retardant, inorganic materials that are fortified to achieve the superior strength people expect from Kuul evaporative media.
This helps FirePro slow the spread of fires to reduce the risks to your data center compared to other evaporative media that might be made of paper and more likely to catch and spread fires.
The cooling effectiveness of evaporative media is determined by its ability to evaporate moisture into the air. Kuul Evolution FirePro has extremely high saturation efficiency, exceeding more than 98% at low airflow and maintaining 90% efficiency even at the highest airspeeds. This means that Kuul Evolution FirePro keeps cooling effectively even when you are pulling high amounts of air through it.
In an evaporative cooler, the primary energy consumption is from the blower fans that push air over the evaporative media. The more resistance from the media, the harder the blower must work to push air through it, and, therefore, the more energy consumption. Experts measure the resistance of evaporative media by the pressure drop across the media. Kuul Evolution FirePro evaporative media creates an extremely low-pressure drop, less than 0.5 inches of H2O across a 12-inch thick pad, nearly 20% lower than competitive brands.
If you are looking for an effective, efficient, and flame-resistant way to design evaporative coolers for data centers, put Kuul Evolution FirePro at the center of it. You’ll see the advantages of using this high-tech evaporative media in terms of better cooling with lower energy costs while achieving a high level of fire safety.
Kuul Evolution FirePro comes in thicknesses ranging from 4” to 12”. By request, we can make it in custom sizes for your application. Also, consider the potential of Kuul Evolution FirePro DE for drift elimination. This can allow for even more compact air-handling units that use higher air velocities.
By leveraging its teams’ expert insights and searching for the best solutions on the market to help elevate its custom cooling-only products, Alliance settled on evaporative media technology from Portacool after meeting representatives of the brand at an ASHRAE show several years ago.
Our climate engineering expert for Kuul evaporative media, John Andersen, recently offered guidelines for consideration to ensure optimal PUE over time through his article for MissionCritical Communications.Read Article