Expansion of Data
In 2012, a client had an existing data center that had reached capacity after opening only two years prior. This data center was unique for the client because it utilized hot aisle containment and water cooled racks—a system not utilized in their previous data centers. This data center had 180kVA of load and anticipated adding and upgrading the equipment in the space in excess of the existing infrastructure’s constraints. An expansion was needed and, fortunately for them, they had anticipated this expansion during the original construction. Space for the UPS, PDU, chiller, pumps, etc. had been reserved. Our design added two redundant 180kVA UPS, an additional 60 ton air cooled chiller, and multiple 500 gallon buffer tanks.
Why buffer tanks?
What is a buffer tank and why does a data center need one? A buffer tank is a large storage vessel of cold water. It is necessary to have a supply of cold water ready in the event the data center has a chiller go off-line. By the time the back-up chiller is called on to send cold water, it could be a few minutes for it to produce cold water. A buffer tank allows a supply cold water to get there quickly. This allows the data center to remain cool.
But Does the Buffer System Work?
Everyone agreed that the design worked on paper. The true test came when one of the main chillers was turned off. We went through many different failure scenarios in order to prove to the customer that the data center would remain on-line. Each test proved that our design worked the way it was intended to. We verified this through monitoring temperatures in the data center white space, the building automation system, and gauges scattered around the building. We also commissioned the entire project. It was truly a team effort with our engineers, their engineers, and maintenance personnel.