Data centres are considered to be dynamic environments where operations such as maintenance, infrastructure upgrade and equipment replacement takes place every day leading to exposure to airborne contaminants. Data Centres accommodate other pollutants such as chlorine, which are emitted by the PVC insulations, cables and wires in case the temperature goes too high. Outdoor air remains as the primary pollutant as it is used for ventilation, cooling and pressurization. The growth in use of air economizers for availing free cooling only means that the data centres that are located in regions without major air pollution concern may also face challenges in protecting the sensitive equipment and maintaining good air quality.
What are the pollutants present
in Data Centres?
Dust and Dirt: A major challenge for the sensitive equipment
Dust and dirt are common problems in Data Centres but these pollutants must be dealt with as they can do considerable amount of damage to the equipment. Dust tends to get inside the equipment and also settle on top of the equipment. If timely cleaning of internal parts are not done then it would lead to problems like overheating and network failures. Dust pollutants are usually light in weight and upon air flow, they tend to spread across. The accumulation of these pollutants can cause coolant fan failure and internal static discharge.
Precision Air Conditioners: Inviting polluted air back into the facility
Air conditioners are essential in data centres as they maintain the temperature at a stable level to help in the cooling of the hardware and control heat dissipated by them. Air conditioners usually suck in the air present in the room and exchange it with presumable “fresh air” from the outdoors. Unless the data centre is located in areas where there are no major air pollutants, outdoor air that the air conditioners bring in are polluted and contain toxic gases like compounds of sulphur. These sulphur compounds do considerable damage to the hardware. Therefore, the air that is exchanged in the data centre environment needs to be filtered to remove the air borne pollutants. Air borne pollutants such as formaldehyde, hydrogen sulphide, sulphur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen and chlorine can lead to corrosion and over-heating of the hardware equipment.
Location of Data Centre: Polluted location could lead to hardware corrosion
The location of the data centre has a crucial role to play when it comes to air quality inside. If the locality of the data centre is around industries, sewage treatment plants, farms, places where waste materials are burnt or around a locality with high vehicular traffic then there is a huge possibility of toxic gases entering the indoor environment and causing significant damage to the hardware.