Mobile Data Center Commissioning Pays for Self with Energy Savings

December 3, 2014 By Linda Hardesty

McKinstryMcKinstry is partnering with Sabey Data Centers to develop a patent-pending device called the Mobile Commissioning Assistant for data center owners. With the device, owners can simulate actual operating conditions prior to installing servers in new data centers. Owners can expect a full payback in the purchasing cost of the device through the amount of energy savings after four uses, according to the partners. (*After publication, McKinstry corrected its announcement to say, “the payback actually comes from not having to rent the heating banks that companies have traditionally used to test systems.”)

A spokesperson for McKinstry said, “A data center owner has the opportunity to purchase the device and use it in any of their future data center facilities—so if there are multiple spaces for servers, the device would be used more than once.”

Currently available for purchase, the Mobile Commissioning Assistant is designed specifically for data centers with hot aisle/cold aisle containment arrangements, which refers to the physical barriers between rows and their orientation to eliminate the mixing of cold supply air entering the servers and hot exhaust air exiting the servers.

This hot aisle/cold aisle containment in data centers is estimated by Energy Star to reduce energy expenses by 5-10 percent. However, it is challenging to accurately test the cooling systems in the space to ensure they can handle the heat and airflow distributed by the servers before the servers arrive in new data centers, say the companies.

Traditional testing strategies include renting multiple heating banks, which simulate temperature but not airflow and pressurization. The Mobile Commissioning Assistant device simulates both the airflow and the temperature of future servers in a hot/cold aisle containment arrangement before the servers are moved into the space.

With a heating coil, fan and an adjustable duct, the Mobile Commissioning Assistant is housed on a mobile cart. The adjustable duct mimics the presence of containment barriers, while the fan acts as the hundreds of server fans creating airflow and pressurization patterns in the space. The fan makes it possible for the cooling system to handle the airflow of operating conditions when the servers are added to the space. The device’s mobile capabilities allow it to be positioned in the optimal heat density location.

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