One thing most data center owners have in common is a concern over water entering their mission critical space. With many data center cooling applications, water in some form is introduced into the air stream. Water in the airstream of a data hall can open up a whole host of issues. Those issues can include things like a need for reverse osmosis or chemically treated water, which can increase maintenance costs, as well as construction costs due to associated piping.

Waterless cooling systems, such as heat recovery wheels, are becoming increasingly more popular in the mission critical market segment. A heat recovery wheel, also known as a thermal wheel or enthalpy wheel, is used to remove heat and moisture from the ambient air and cool the incoming air before it flows through a facility as ventilated air. By recovering the heat energy, systems using a heat recovery wheel not only remove moisture, but are also typically more energy efficient. This technology is hardly new, as it has been used for quite some time in other markets like healthcare and government. However, we are just beginning to see the application of this particular unit in data centers, and we will likely begin to see more of it.

Located within an air handling unit, the heat recovery wheel can heat and cool data center space the majority of the year. For the small portion of the year when the heat recovery wheel system cannot meet the load, the unit also includes a direct exchange compressor to provide the required cooling. One added benefit of heat recovery wheels inside the units is that they do not usually require maintenance after installation. An owner also receives utility cost savings because their facility’s systems do not use water or non-potable reclamation loops—in areas where water is more expensive, these savings can be especially significant.

As a leader in the industry, Southland consistently seeks new ways to provide sustainable and efficient opportunities for building owners. By implementing waterless heat recovery systems, we are able to prevent the use of thousands of gallons of water that would otherwise be required to be pumped into a facility. Using various metrics, such as water usage effectiveness, the waterless benefits of a heat recovery wheel system can be verified for owners—and prove useful when marketing their data center space to potential tenants. While waterless units are not recommended for all climates, they do serve as very efficient solutions for climates that do fit the requirements.

What other sustainable solutions would you consider for a data center client? Tell us in the comments!

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  • Ashley Hayes

    Project Manager

    As a Project Manager with Southland’s Mid-Atlantic Division, Ashley Hayes is responsible for planning and delivering quality projects safely, on time, and within budget, while supporting both field labor and client relations.  Her experience includes projects within various markets, including government, healthcare, mission critical, and commercial.

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