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Thermal and Mechanical Challenges in Data Center
Keywords: Data Centers, Evaporative Cooling, Dynamic Cold Plate
In this presentation, I will discuss research activities of my team that address thermal, mechanical and contamination challenges in data centers. Majority of data centers are equipped with Direct Expansion (DX) cooling unit with account for a major part of the total energy usage. Considering the rapid advancement in Data centers that strive for 7/24/365 operation, use of energy efficient evaporative cooling strategies that can replace DX units will be addressed. The study includes the building of an Aztec ASC-15 cooling unit in collaboration with Mestex, an NSF IUCRC member company , attachment of the cooling unit to an IT Pod, construction of internal details of the IT pod, construction of a duct and subsequent testing various cooling pads, creation of CFD model for the IT pod and the ASC-15 unit. The cooling unit, ASC-15, which is capable of operating in pure air-side economization, in direct evaporative cooling, in indirect evaporative cooling, and/or in hybrid modes, contains two blowers which can deliver up to 7000 CFM to the IT pod. Best practices of using airside economization with or without direct and indirect evaporative cooling will be identified in this project. I will also discuss our study in particulate and gaseous contaminants, which is a key concern in using airside economizers especially with the newly expanded ASHRAE environmental envelope. At the board-level, we are concerned with thermal management of high-power modules through design and experimental testing of a first-ever “dynamic cold plate” concept (indirect liquid cooling). Through implementation of sensing and control, this solution will distribute the cooling resource to different sections within its body depending on local power dissipation from the adjoining module. Related to immersion cooling, an experimental study will be presented on a single server fully submerged horizontally in white mineral oil. In addition, the reliability challenges of mineral oil will also be addressed. In another study, a potentially energy efficient practice is identified, to reduce server cooling power by replacing conventional chassis enclosed smaller fans with larger rack mount fans. Related to structural aspects, failure of a rack due to vibrations could result in injury to people, damage to IT equipment and interruption of services that depend on proper functioning of the networking equipment in the rack. Protecting data centers form unexpected vibrations such as earthquakes and while transporting them is a major problem in the industry. Our work to date on this topic collaborating with Commscope, an NSF IUCRC member company, will be discussed. All of the above projects are funded by NSF IUCRC.
Dr. Dereje Agonafer, Jenkins Garrett Professor
University of Texas, Arlington
Arlington, Texas

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