The California Institute of Technology – also known as Caltech — is installing monitors and developing metrics to determine the efficiencies and savings of Hot Aisle Containment enclosures recently installed in one of their data centers.
The partitions and dividers were designed and manufactured by Simplex Isolation Systems of Fontana, CA, to isolate hot air and cold air aisles in the data center.
“The enclosures give us greater efficiencies in cooling our data center rooms, saving energy and money,” said David Mispagel, project manager for architectural and engineering services at CalTech.
“We expect to see very positive results.”
A recent independent study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory finds facilities that use partitions to direct airflow in data centers “can save energy on both air conditioning and fan systems – 15% and 67%, respectively.”
Data centers cooling is one of the major costs of running an IT Organization, often consuming more power than the equipment uses itself. By proper separation of the hot and cold airflows, using a system of curtains or hard walls as in the case of Caltech major efficiencies can be made and more equipment can be installed in the same location without further capital or operational costs.
In order to help Caltech meet their additional goal of creating a showcase data center with attractive partitions and framing, Simplex used a design based on their SIS 797 system, combining extruded aluminum framing and transparent Plexiglas partitions. The Caltech design incorporates partitions above the racks reaching to the ceiling and sealed doors providing easy and quick access between aisles in the data center.
Simplex offers systems at several different budget levels. In some applications Simplex has worked with data center managers to use their AirBlock™ line of isolation curtains and strip doors to maintain hot air and cold air aisle separation in data centers. These systems achieve similar results in terms of energy and money saved.
“The SIS 797 system looks great and works well,” said Duane McKinnon, president of Simplex, “but for data centers that are still expanding or being reconfigured, curtains and strip doors are a much more modular solution and just as effective.”
Additionally, Simplex’s expertise with the principals of isolation control and the dynamics of air flow means they can custom design partitions and barriers that work for the layout of individual data centers.
One data center room at Caltech has already been completed and two additional rooms are scheduled for construction. Mispagel added that Caltech is currently evaluating a fourth data center and some others in the foreseeable future.
“This is all part of Caltech’s more sustainable approach,” added Mispagel.
“We want to be ecologically sensitive and achieve reductions in energy costs.