Side Stream Filtration for Data Centres

Data centres, the backbone of the digital world, have long relied on air-cooling systems to maintain optimal operating temperatures. However, as technology advances and power demands increase, the limitations of air-cooling systems have become more apparent. This has led to a growing interest in water-cooling systems for data centres. In this article, we will explore the importance of water quality in data centre cooling, the challenges it presents, and the solutions available to ensure efficient and reliable operation.

The Shift Towards Water Cooling

Advances in computing technology have pushed the limits of air-cooling systems, making them less efficient in dissipating the increasing heat generated by data centre equipment. As a result, water-cooling systems are emerging as a viable alternative. According to industry experts, air-cooled systems may soon give way to water-cooled systems, which are better equipped to handle the rising power requirements of modern data centres.

Water has a higher specific heat capacity than air, allowing it to absorb more heat without a significant increase in temperature. This makes it an ideal medium for cooling data centre equipment. However, ensuring the best quality of water is used in these systems is crucial to prevent down-time and maintain optimal performance.

Understanding Water Quality

Water quality is a critical factor in the efficient operation of water-cooled server applications. Leaks and contaminants in the water stream can lead to system failures and reduced lifespan of the equipment. There are two water loops to consider in data centre cooling: the Facility Water System (FWS) and the Technology Cooling System (TCS).

Facility Water System (FWS) Water Quality

The FWS carries water to all areas of the data centre site, including non-computer-related cooling functions like air conditioning. Filtration is essential in the FWS to capture particulates that can cause fouling of downstream equipment, such as heat exchangers. A 35 to 40-mesh strainer is often recommended as a starting point for FWS filtration, but specific filtration needs may vary. It is also advisable to refer to ASHRAE technical committee 3.6 or BSRIA’s BG29/2021 and BG50/2021 for further guidance on water quality.

Technology Cooling System (TCS) Water Quality

The TCS is responsible for cooling the computer equipment directly. The water used in the TCS must be carefully monitored and treated to ensure proper operation and longevity of the equipment. ASHRAE recommends maintaining a pH between 7 and 9, using a corrosion inhibitor like benzotriazole (BTA), regular deionisation filtration, and solid particle filtration.


Side Stream Filtration for Water-Cooled Data Centres

Side Stream Filtration systems play a crucial role in managing water quality in water-cooled data centres. These systems help maintain the consistency of the water composition, prevent particulate buildup, and ensure the efficiency and reliability of the cooling system.

Sources of Particulates and Contamination

Data centre fluid streams can contain particulates and contaminants from various sources. During the construction and expansion of data centres, oxide scale, corrosion, and other manufacturing byproducts can develop in the piping and system components. Centralised filtration equipment may not capture these localised particulates, making localised filtration necessary on the supply side.

To address contamination from metal particles, dust, and oxides, a series of increasingly fine filters can be employed to protect against different particle sizes. This can be easily achieved by starting with an X-POT filter of 50 Micron and progressively changing it to 25, 5 and 1 micron, depending on the water quality conditions. Starting with a clean system is crucial to prevent water quality issues, and new systems should consider the factors mentioned above to ensure optimal water quality.

The X-POT XP+ is highly specified for Data Centre Projects.
Implementing X-POT Side Stream Filtration

To optimise water quality in data centres, side stream filtration systems should be implemented at various points in the cooling system. One innovative solution is the X-POT Side Stream Filtration system from VEXO. The X-POT offers full side stream filtration with powerful magnetic filtration, fine cartridge or bag filtration, air and dirt separator, and a dosing unit. This all-in-one system ensures that the water used in the cooling system is clean and free from debris and contaminants, optimising the efficiency and reliability of the data centre cooling system.

Water Conservation in Data Centres

As the demand for water increases worldwide, water conservation in data centres has become a pressing concern, particularly in water-stressed regions. Data centres can contribute to water conservation efforts by implementing water management and reuse practices such as non-flush additives to prevent excessive flushing of the system. VEXO’s X-PO35 Non-Flush Cleanser strips biofilms and gently cleanses system materials for up to 48 hours. The liberated deposits are then captured within the X-POT before dosing X-PO10 Inhibitor.

The Future of Water Quality in Data Centres

As data centres continue to evolve and expand, water quality will play an increasingly crucial role in their operations. Ensuring proper water treatment, filtration, and conservation measures will be essential for maintaining the efficiency, reliability, and sustainability of data centre cooling systems. With innovative solutions like the X-POT Side Stream Filtration system, data centre operators can optimise water quality and contribute to a more sustainable future.

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