Data Centre Campus Masterplanning – CFD Studies

Date Published

21st Jul 2022 @ 0:00
Karen Duffin
Corporate Communications Manager, IES

IES Consulting have been providing expert CFD services to support a series of hyperscale data centre campus masterplanning projects across Europe.

As the reliance on digital infrastructure continues many organisations are contending with the challenges of operating hyperscale data centre campuses. Consisting of multiple buildings with incredibly high energy demands, these facilities require special consideration to their design, layout and operation.

A particular challenge for data centres is the high volume of heat energy expelled as hot air from the many Air Handing Unit (AHU) exhausts, dry coolers and cooling towers required to ventilate and prevent systems overheating. Critically, these plumes of hot air must not enter back into the AHU intakes as this could lead to exaggerated cooling demands, ultimately leading to higher – and costly - energy use, in what is already an extremely energy intensive environment. 

IES Consulting have provided expertise in complex CFD modelling to support hyperscale data centre campus masterplanning projects for high profile clients with multiple sites across Europe. By using CFD simulations, they traced the warm air path throughout sites to uniquely inform the design of each masterplan, enabling the client to ensure their HVAC installation is optimally placed to prevent any untoward entrainment.

With these being mission critical sites, they need a full power backup available on site to compensate for electrical grid failures. IES' experience on recent projects has included as many as 300-400 on-site diesel generators for this purpose. However, this leads to additional client issues, since generators also release very hot gases, including obnoxious pollutants such as Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) and Sulfur Oxides (SOx).

Using CFD simulations IES Consulting expanded the analysis to encompass the generators to optimally size the height of flues whilst positioning to prevent entrainment of hot air and ensure the safe dispersal of pollutants. Where a significant accumulation of fumes was identified, alerts were added to warn on-site personnel when the diesel generators were in operation. 

All the above analyses were performed based on a detailed weather analysis of the site in question, with worst case conditions identified by studying the site weather data across a number of years prior. As the studies encompassed multiple sites across Europe with widely varying climatic conditions, the analysis was always tailored towards the specific conditions of each individual site, taking account of different wind directions, speeds and seasonal variances.

In summary, the simulations enabled IES Consulting to:

  • Test site performance across different weather conditions
  • Advise on optimal locations for the heat exchanging equipment
  • Recommend flue height for the diesel generators
  • Identify and mitigate locations of high NOx/SOx concentrations on the site
  • Advise the impact on neighbouring sites from the transport of heat plumes and NOx/SOx gases

To find out more about IES Consulting's CFD services for data centres, visit https://www.iesve.com/services/cfd/data-centres or contact consulting@iesve.com to discuss your requirements further.


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