Cold aisle containment system incorporates intelligent control system

March 10, 2010
The system includes Knurr brand cabinets as well as Liebert brand sensor and cooling equipment.

The SmartAisle cold-aisle containment system from Emerson Network Power incorporates intelligent management into a flexible barrier system to deliver greater than 30 percent energy savings and a 25 percent capacity increase, its manufacturer says.

Knurr brand cabinets are used within the containment structure, though the system can also be adapted to existing racks. A clear plexiglass ceiling system serves as the roof to contain the cold air. Swinging or sliding doors contain the areas at the ends of the aisle, and horizontal as well as vertical blanking panels optimize cabinet airflow. Alternatively, a curtain system is available for ceiling containment.

The Liebert brand iCOM control system provides monitoring, control and communications that are important to the system's performance improvement over standard containment structures, Emerson says. Remote sensors in both the hot and cold aisles allow iCOM to ensure proper temperature, humidity, and airflow to the inlet of the servers. The control system monitors conditions in the cold aisle to independently control the variable capacity compressor or chilled-water cooling capacity, as well as the fan speed of the cooling units; this capability allows the units to work in teamwork mode for energy-efficien load-sharing operation.

"Containment has proven to be an effective approach to increasing cooling system efficiency, but containment without control is only a partial solution," said Fred Stack, vice president of marketing for the Liebert Precision Cooling business of Emerson Network Power in North America. "With the SmartAisle solution we've taken containment to the next level, magnifying the results that can be achieved by providing greater control of the contained environment while also enabling a modular approach to data center optimization."

"Nemertes sees sensor-driven intelligent management of cooling as the most important improvement in data center climate control in many years," commented John Burke, a principal research analyst at Nemertes Research. "Fifty-nine percent of the enterprises Nemertes speaks with say that data center HVAC is still a challenge, especially problems with density, efficiency, and control of airflow. Improved, and especially more intelligent, cooling infrastructure is their main strategy for addressing such problems."

Tom Wye, president and chief executive officer of Bay Area Internet Solutions, endorsed SmartAisle after recently deploying it in a 30,000-square-foot, 1,000-rack co-location facility in Santa Clara, CA. "Our goal was to find a solution that would provide us with efficient cooling, while we gradually expand our customer base," he said. "Carefully comparing the various technologies, we found that the SmartAisle solution from Emerson Network Power would provide us with the most efficient and flexible coolign system available. The SmartAisle solution is now an integral component of our cooling infrastructure."

The system can be used on either raised or non-raised floors and is compatible with a variety of Liebert brand cooling units.

Read the article "Aisle containment an option for thermal management," which discusses cold-aisle versus hot-aisle containment.

Watch video of Bay Area Internet Solutions' Tier IV co-location facility.

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