Transient thermal analysis of a data centre cooling system under fault conditions

Kummert, M. and Dempster, W.M. and McLean, Kenneth (2009) Transient thermal analysis of a data centre cooling system under fault conditions. In: 11th International Building Performance Simulation association Conference and Exhibition, Building Simulation 2009, 2009-07-27 - 2009-07-30. (Unpublished)

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Data centres housing the IT infrastructure of large organisations constitute a considerable technical challenge to ensure 100% operational availability for mission critical IT systems. Specifying plant cooling systems to maintain suitable temperature levels and dissipate the heat generated can be carried out using industry standard design methods. However, accounting for perturbations in cooling due to failure of plant and restart of backup systems requires for faster thermal transients to be addressed than would normally be encountered in building system analysis. It is in this context that this paper describes the modelling and analysis of a 5 MW chilled water cooling system used for the cooling of a recently constructed UK data centre. The model has been developed using the TRNSYS software and includes a full model of the energy transfers for the data centre including chillers, hydraulic network, valve models and each of the 70 Room Air Conditioning Units. The coupling between the data centre air temperature levels and the cooler system has enabled a full assessment of the cooling system design in response to system perturbations. A number of scenarios are examined involving the failure of the chillers and how the inherent thermal inertia of the system plus additional inertia achieved through buffer vessels allowed a suitable design to be achieved. The detailed transient analysis model allowed the sizing of these vessels effectively and to gain a better understanding of the chilled water plant operation, both in normal conditions and in the case of failure.