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Alfa Laval promotes the benefits of Low Speed Ventilation for data centers

The company thinks your fans are spinning too fast

Swedish heat exchange specialist Alfa Laval has introduced a range of data center cooling solutions that follow the principles of Low Speed Ventilation – an approach that requires a greater number of fans but moves the air at considerably slower rates than those achieved with Computer Room Air Conditioning (CRAC) units.

The company says its massive coolers can improve temperature conditions in the data center, save on electricity costs and help achieve PUE as low as 1.07.

The technology has previously been deployed in the Netherlands, but is now available in Nordic countries.

Release the pressure

Low Speed Ventilation system

Low Speed Ventilation system

Source: Alfa Laval

Conventional server cooling technology involves high air speeds of around 8-9 meters per second. Moving air at this speed requires a lot of energy and can trigger the Venturi effect, which leads to air pressure variations and “hot spots” that can cause servers to overheat.

Another drawback of CRACs is the vibration produced by fans, which can be especially damaging around sensitive equipment like hard drives.

In contrast, Low Speed Ventilation delivers air at a considerably slower rate: 1.5 to 1.8 meters per second. This helps minimize pressure differences and prevent the emergence of hot spots.

According to Alfa Laval, Low Speed Ventilation requires more space to accommodate large coolers but consumes up to 30 percent less power than conventional server cooling solutions.

As an additional benefit, the huge banks of fans are located outside the server room, so the maintenance can be carried out without disturbing data center operations.

“We live in an age obsessed with speed, so it may feel counter-intuitive that you can improve performance by slowing something down. However, our new concept shows that if you reduce air velocity, you can avoid problems often encountered in conventional server cooling and gain a lot of benefits such as increased energy efficiency and reduced energy costs,” said Mats Carselid, marketing manager for Data Center Cooling at Alfa Laval.

“Just the fact that Low Speed Ventilation technology allows server halls to operate under normal air pressure makes it a true innovation.”

Readers' comments (4)

  • The concept makes a lot of sense. I have been advocating for larger open area supply tiles and lower raised floor static pressures for a long time. I imagine your system can work for slab or raised floors. In a raised floor environment getting the air out of the floor at low velocities can be a challenge, need very high open area supply tiles. How are you addressing this issue with your systems?

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  • Dear Lars,
    Thanks for your interest in cooling servers with low air speed and the positive effects it brings to the complete system.
    You're right, the LSV technology works with both raised floor and non-raised floor solution.
    It doesn't matter and works equally well as the technology is about saturating the servers in enough amounts of cold air.
    In raised floor solutions metal grate floors are used and allows an effective flow of slow moving air.

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  • I agree with this principle and advocate the same in existing data centers, where we match supply with demand at the rack. What is the max CFM you can deliver. I understand the perf tile in the floor but as Lars mentions, you would need to match delivery to demand via a large open tile (56-68%) but even with those openings pressure will drive capacity.

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  • Dear Tom,
    The largest LSV server cooler is capable of deliver 77 750 m3/hour corresponding to 45 800 CFM. Our experience from data centers using LSV technology is that with normal pressure in the data room we don’t experience these problems as the servers are saturated in air. Metal grate floors doesn’t contribute to the pressure profile of the circulated air.
    Feel free to contact me directly for any discussions.

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