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Keeping data centers safe from air pollution

Authored by Shuvendu Mazumdar, national manager- SHARP Air Purifier Business.

Nothing is immune to air pollution. The effect is not limited to living being, even computing devices; electronic devices get affected by the deteriorating quality of air.

Our world today in the digital age, is in continuous need of 24/7 connectivity, communication and networking. Not only do we demand continuity in the availability of internet, the data and information needs to be operating throughout too. This has led to set up of data centers, they house servers; the size and numbers depend on the data requirements and services demanded by these organizations that have a presence on the internet. These servers hold endless information, and are equipped with backup systems, generators and all the electrical and electronic equipment.

The ever expanding demand for quick information, has led to the growth of social media services, cloud backups and therefore data centers. You can imagine the loss of data, information, money and not to forget the loss of credibility that will result from the breakdown of even one server.

Data centers provide critical service; they need to meet tight standards. To achieve this, one of the vital needs is to ensure clean and cool air. The electronic equipment used in the data center generates heat, and it in turn is sensitive to heat. To take care of this, data centers use HVAC systems for cooling, to maintain a stable temperature and humidity within the required levels. This is a fundamental requirement for a reliable data center.

The outside air makes its way inside the data center through these HVAC systems. Pollutants also move into the data center through doorways used by employees around the facility. Paper and cardboard products often cause dust in the facility.

Air pollution increases the deposits of salt in the air inside. Did you know salt is the main generator of corrosion? It can cause the deterioration of electronic components like circuit boards that lead to electrical shortages. This can lead to a mechanical or a system failure. Some harmful gases can lead to corrosion; the most common pollutants found in a data center are sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide and particulate matter. These contaminants can break down computer circuitry, metals. High levels of humidity, with deposited dust from air and corrosive gases can cause problems.

Increased dust could lead to fires if the air is too dry. It can negatively impact the effectiveness of heat sinks and cooling systems. The energy requirements for cooling double to maintain the same cooling level.

At times a single breakdown in the data center can lead to excessive damage by impacting the other components. This can eve make the whole data center dysfunctional.
The advantages of clean air are underestimated in the working efficiency of data centre.
Air filters or purifiers can be retrofitted in the HVAC systems to minimize the amount of dust and other pollutants. They also freshen up the air smell.

HVAC systems, used in commercial and industrial buildings are invaded by a variety of airborne particles including dust, mold, and pollen.  Retrofitting an efficient filter or purifier can increase the life of the equipment and improve air quality.

Another option could be an independent use of an air purifier in the data center itself depending on the capacity of the facility and the efficacy of the air purifier. The available air purifiers use various mechanisms and technologies to maintain the facilities at optimum efficiency, in terms of the air quality and humidity levels within the optimal range. One of the patented technologies by Sharp i.e. the plasma cluster ion technology is based on natural phenomena. Besides removing static electricity, this technology remove dust and other particles suspended in air to help maintain a highly clean and sterilized operating environment in server rooms.

It has been endorsed by renowned institutions, e.g. TERI University.

Another area that calls for concern is the increasing power consumption of data centers. It not only affects the operating costs of the data centers but more importantly is a major ecological concern.

Air filters are important in reducing energy costs too. They can reduce energy expenditures 30-40% or more.

Google, the technology giant has taken steps to improve the energy efficiency of its data center, cooling infrastructure. It emphasizes the criticality of taking decisive action to boost energy efficiency, irrespective of the data center capacity.

Temperature, humidity levels and the air quality determine the functioning of a data center.
Air Purifiers can protect your data center from the threats of abrupt failures; increase the performance, while reducing energy bills. An efficient air purifier can maintain a smooth flow of information that keeps our world turning.

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