A review of current status of free cooling in data centres
A study* published in Applied Thermal Engineering reviews current status of the free cooling technologies in data centres.
Free cooling technologies include airside economizers, waterside economizers, and heat pipe technology. Free cooling technologies permit to relieve the compressor loading of a refrigeration system. On the one hand, airside and waterside economizers rely on the ambient conditions and can be used with other systems (absorption, adsorption, or solar systems among others). It can increase their performance. On the other hand, heat pipe technologies feature interesting characteristics for data centres, because they can transfer heat at small temperature difference.
The authors estimate that nowadays, cooling represents 50% of the total energy consumption in data centres. That is why free cooling technologies play essential role in partial or complete relief of compressor operation: among them, indirect airside coolers show very high efficiency and can be used in almost any climate. As for thermosiphon heat exchangers, they are quite promising for data centres free cooling, while the pulsating heat pipes can transport heat at even longer distance.
*Daraghmeh H. M., Wang C.-C. “A review of current status of free cooling in datacenters”. Applied Thermal Engineering volume 114 (2017): 1224-1239. DOI: 10.1016/j.applthermaleng.2016.10.093