Earth Day has come and gone again…

Another Earth day has passed. While we are a few minutes closer to midnight (http://thebulletin.org/clock/2015), some things are looking up.

While I work hard to save energy in my daily life and in my career choices, sometimes I can feel a little helpless. I know I accomplish some significant things, but then I watch some documentary about the slash in burns in Indonesia, and how they are just complete carbon bombs and it almost feels like whats the point. While I probably can’t get the planet to kick its palm oil habit, I’ll still do everything I can to save water, electricity and money.

I think we are finally seeing the impacts of our actions on the environment, and California and its drought (whether its cyclical or human influenced isn’t the point) are showing the nation the pain of running headlong into running out of a resource. I mean, things are really, really bad there. The drought extends to other areas of the country (http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/) but the fact is that the state that produces an incredible amount of produce and dairy for the world is running out of water. It’s scary is what it is.

I think we’ve been taking electricity and petroleum seriously for quite some time, but we really need to start taking water seriously. Where we expend lots of water to reduce our electricity usage, we are going to have to start paying attention to the trade off (does the use of water on site offset the use of electricity and its use of water at the source).

We all make trade offs, raising supply air temperatures is a trade off on energy and equipment longevity, using water can be a trade off between even higher inlet temperatures and water consumption, we trade off availability to use energy savings modes in UPSs, and we trade burning dinosaurs for the assurance that the generators we rely on will start when we need them.

Evaluating those trade offs, as a publicly traded company, means measuring the decisions to maximize shareholder value. Using the best data we have and the best, the most thorough evaluations, and prudent brave decision making, the free market will help determine a green path as limited resources become scarcer and more expensive. Taxes and regulation can help ensure that true costs are accounted for (for example, extra taxes on coal burning power to account for the human health costs, the permanent environmental impacts from the coal ash, and the global warming impacts) but they often end up leveraged by particular special interests and fail to represent the true costs.

So how can you win? Well there are solutions that win on all fronts. Using VFDs and slowing down all your fans, for example, is on way to drive down consumption. It represents what I would call a win-win-win, less energy used, less water required for a cooling plant, and ultimately more reliability in cooling plant as the load from the air handlers fans is lower and reserves more capacity for IT cooling. Being smarter and better can help you find these win-win-win situations, and it also makes you look really good to your coworkers.

Just some incoherent thoughts, you know I like to ramble on earth day. Its hard to talk about my work too much anymore (we are very tight lipped at AWS) but I am still out there doing the good work, I promise!

A “Fan”tastic Post

Are you a fan of fans? Centrifugal (I prefer to call Centripetal but that’s a tale for another day), Axial, Cross flow, whichever you like, fans can prove to be a challenging topic. A recent series in the Ashrae Journal discusses industrial fans, but what got me thinking about the topic of fans was a much smaller situation. PC computer fans.

 

Your standard 120 mm PC fan is a fairly homogenous product, but there also exist other fans in the same frame size with considerably higher energy use, cfm, and static pressure capability. These fans can be used to cool equipment, like say a bitcoin miner or a 4U server, sometimes coupled with a direct chip to water to air setup (something like this).

So which use of fans is best? 1 really impressive fan (like this) or 2 run of the mill fans stacked or 2 run of the mill fans next to each other (like these). The single fan consumes 30 watts, while the 2 fans consume 4 watts each. The 30 watt fan moves 240 cfm, while the cheapo fan moves 70 cfm. How much air do you need, and how much static pressure do you need? These fans get slapped in an application but they won’t move that same air volume with any resistance. That’s where the fan curves come into play.

Fan Curves Continue reading A “Fan”tastic Post

The myth of the 15-ton compressor

For those of you that don’t know I started in the industry as a facilities technician, then within three months became a site lead mechanical engineer. One thing that always perplexed me was the persistence of the 15-ton (or any nominal sized refrigeration component) compressor. Even today, working as a regional engineer over 3000 miles of data center footprint, I still deal with this from people who should know better.

Continue reading The myth of the 15-ton compressor

The Hidden “U”

Shocking Revelation: Containing and controlling your airflow is crucial to optimizing the performance of your data center cooling.

More Shocking Revelation: Many data centers spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on physical separation, yet fail to blank what I call “The Hidden U”.

IMG_20140814_142426

This makes me a happy panda

IMG_20140814_142306and this makes me a sad panda…

Continue reading The Hidden “U”

Immersion cooling: That’s how I learned Portuguese that one summer, right? (updated)

No, not quite. Immersion cooling has been around for a long time. Most commonly, you might recognize the large fins on utility power transformers. They are cooled by immersion, with the heat radiated by those fins. Its only recently, perhaps the past 15 years, that the concept has been applied to personal computer cooling mainly by hobbyists trying to do something different and cool, but ultimately likely being a little disappointed as other more mainstream technologies gave them their “bleeding edge” computing performance. Even more recently, this concept has started to be applied to data centers. Continue reading Immersion cooling: That’s how I learned Portuguese that one summer, right? (updated)

Got any Smart Ideas?

I just received the check from our major project at the CH2 data center in downtown Chicago. A $544,000 rebate for validating our energy savings is a pretty impressive feat. The projects included VFDs on DX Cracs, modifying the BMS and economizer, installing hot aisle containment, installing lighting occupancy sensors, and upgrading the cooling towers with new fans and new evaporative media. They tell me this is the biggest check they have ever issued and we are doing a big presentation ceremony in a few days to celebrate this projects successes. Big congratulations to the team I worked with that made this all a reality, Dan Fargano, Travis Nelson, and Jason Brick.

 

The Raised Floor Perspective-Utilizing Raised Floor Space

Space, Power density and redundancy are three highly important facets of any successful data center. Today I will turn my focus toward space. Data center raised floor space can be very hard to come by. Whether you are designing the most efficient layout for an enterprise center, allocating cage space for a colocation center or arranging an environment with in a cage, space is important. Most often more space cannot be added and when it can the cost will generally be substantial. Therefore it is paramount to effectively use all the space available at a given center. This is not always easy. Equipment on the floor such as PDUs, RPPs, CRACs and CRAHs can get in the way. Access clearances need to be provided and take up additional space beyond the footprint of the equipment itself. Structural pillars can present an obstacle to the overall space layout. Also cages that separate environments at colocation sites need to be taken into account. For various reasons data center floor layouts can change over time. Replacing old equipment with newer equipment that has a smaller foot print or customer turnover are just a few examples. Changes on the raised floor can leave equipment in the way of utilizing raised floor space most efficiently over time. Most people would not think to move critical IT infrastructure, however doing so can lead to more usable and revenue generating space.

Continue reading The Raised Floor Perspective-Utilizing Raised Floor Space

PUE 1.0: Mission Impossible. But how low can you go?

Everyone knows how hard it is to continue to improve PUE. I’ve even included a graphic representation of how spending can influence your PUE:spendvspueSo we all know our struggles, and as the industry matures it becomes easier to increase efficiency under a given budget constraint. But the general idea, that every dollar spent has less impact than the dollar before it (save for some hurtle points) in general will hold true.

Continue reading PUE 1.0: Mission Impossible. But how low can you go?

Another Tool in the Toolkit – Pumped Refrigerant Economizers

Do you want to have the impact of an air side economizer without the negative side effects on air quality while avoiding the humidity lock out hours? Well there is a new product on the market that might have just what you need. The Pumped Refrigerant Economizer is a clever way to economize without using water or fresh air introduction. So what does this Pumped Refrigerant Economizer do?  Continue reading Another Tool in the Toolkit – Pumped Refrigerant Economizers

The Raised Floor Perspective- Customer Appreciation

This is geared toward the colocation side of the data center world.

Working in such an engineering based and high tech field it is easy to forget what really allows us to bring home the bacon, our customers. Colocation data centers would not exist without the customers to fill them up. While you may have good customers and difficult ones, we should all approach our business with them in mind. Now I am not going to get into a philosophical conversation whether “the customer is always right” or not. This is not the time or place. I will focus on small changes that will help out the customers and in turn the data center staff.

Continue reading The Raised Floor Perspective- Customer Appreciation

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