Cooling solutions in an operational data centre: A case study

B. Fakhim, M. Behnia*, S. W. Armfield, N. Srinarayana

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Citations (Scopus)


The rapid growth in data centres - large computing infrastructures containing vast quantities of data processing and storage equipment - has resulted in their consumption of up to 100 times more energy per square metre than office accommodation. The decrease in processing server sizes and the more efficient use of space and server processing are challenging data centre facilities to provide more power and cooling, significantly increasing energy demands. Energy consumption of data centres can be severely and unnecessarily high due to inadequate localised cooling and densely packed server rack layouts. However, as heat dissipation in data centres rises by orders of magnitude, inefficiencies such as air recirculation causing hot spots and flow short-circuiting will have a significant impact on the thermal manageability and energy efficiency of the cooling infrastructure. Therefore, an efficient thermal management of high-powered electronic equipment is a significant challenge for cooling of data centres. To highlight the importance of some of these issues, in this project, an operational data centre has been studied. Field measurements of temperature have been performed. Numerical analysis of flow and temperature fields is conducted in order to evaluate the thermal behaviour of the data centre. A number of undesirable hot spots have been identified. To rectify the problem, a few practical design and remedial solutions to improve the cooling effectiveness have been proposed and examined to allow a reduced air-conditioning power requirement. The findings lead to a better understanding of the cooling issues and the respective proposed solutions allow an improved design for future data centres.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2279-2291
Number of pages13
JournalApplied Thermal Engineering
Issue number14-15
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Air-conditioning
  • Cooling
  • Data centre
  • Numerical simulation
  • Server rack


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