Guest Author Michael Isberto

A data center is a large group of computer servers that are typically used for remote storage, processing, or distribution of large amounts of data. Data centers can often be found in densely populated major cities, but there are many unique data center locations around the world as well. There are data centers underwater, in a nuclear bunker, in the Arctic Circle, and even in 19th-century cathedrals. People are looking for different ways, new places, and better solutions to store their data. However, regardless of where the data center location is the need to cool a data center is vital. You home computer or laptop becomes hot when it is being used, so imagine a data center’s heat output when they are running 24 hours a day, seven days a week! Data centers are very hot so insulating cooling systems is a significant part of keeping the cold air where it needs to be. When cooling any space, you also run the risk of condensation building up on below ambient temperature surfaces, such as water lines. Insulating these water lines can prevent moisture buildup, which can cause problems down the line,choosing the correct type of insulation is an important part of management as well.

How Do You Keep a Data Center Cool?

Cooling a data center and keeping the temperature consistent are vital and there are two traditional ways to cool a data center: air-based cooling and liquid-based cooling. The most common air-based cooling method is called “cold aisle/hot aisle.” This cooling method happens by facing the cold sides of each server cabinet away from the hot sides of each cabinet. This creates a convection system where the cabinet cools itself. Often in extreme temperatures this method doesn’t work the best, so data center managers pump a large amount of cold air in the room. Another air-based cooling method is called “Hot Aisle Containment and Cold Aisle Containment.” Hot aisle containment can provide 40% more savings than cold aisle/hot aisle containment because “Hot Aisle Containment and Cold Aisle Containment” systems trap the hot air and let it leave through an exhaust system.

Evaporative cooling is a traditional technology that can be used to cool servers as well. Also known as swamp cooling; this method uses the process of evaporating water which brings the temperature down in a room. Wet pads or wet filters are allowed to evaporate by using a fan.

Liquid-based methods are increasing in popularity for data center managers. Liquid-based cooling is one of these methods where water flows through pipes and cooling tower pumps which chills the hot side of the cabinet and brings the temperature down.

One of the newest liquid-based methods is known as liquid immersion cooling where a special type of liquid coolant, which does not conduct electricity and will not damage the components, flows across the hot components to cool it down. Yes, the servers fully emerge in this dielectric fluid!

Why Does a Data Center Need Insulation?

The one thing all of these methods have in common is the need for proper insulation. Generally speaking, the two popular types of insulation products used are closed-cell foam insulation and fiberglass insulation. Closed-cell foam insulation is a rubber-based material that works well when moisture is present. Foam insulation can be used for insulating chilled and hot piping, chillers, cooling tanks and air handlers. It can even be used for acoustics. Because foam insulation resists moisture ingress, it is the perfect insulation solution for data center cooling. Choosing good quality closed-cell foam is essential. Armacell produces the ArmaFlex family of products which are some of the best insulating foams for hot and cold lines. Armacell has you covered, and that’s not just a figure of speech.

Fiberglass insulation is made from tightly packed spun glass fibers. Fiberglass is an open cell, soft flexible and features millions of air pockets, giving it good thermal properties. The problem with this type of insulation is the risk of trapping moisture, which could lead to mildew and mold. Fiberglass insulation shouldn’t be used anywhere moisture is expected. Fiberglass insulation should be a thing of the past.

Not All Insulation is Made Equally

There are spray foams, open-cell foams, closed-cell foams, a range of different thicknesses, and various grades as well. Armacell makes the highest quality insulation using the best materials around. Armacell foam can be found insulating many high-end facilities and state of the art aircraft. Armacell’s ArmaFlex® pipe insulation was used in Destiny, the U.S. Laboratory attached to the International Space Station, where this highly engineered foam insulation keeps the air conditioning lines from sweating and freezing in space. If the International Space Station can trust Armacell foam out in space, data center managers can trust the quality of Armacell’s foam products for their data centers cooling needs as well.

Armacell Advantages

Armacell uses a fiber-free, formaldehyde-free, low VOC and non-particulating formulation, which makes it a feasible option for indoor use as it protects indoor air quality. It is manufactured without CFCs, HFCs, HCFCs, PBDEs, or Formaldehyde. It is also made with EPA registered Microban® antimicrobial product protection and inhibits the growth of mold and mildew in the insulation. It is a closed-cell structure, which also prevents moisture and eliminates the need for additional vapor retarder (as you would need for fiberglass options). Armacell’s foam insulation retains its thermal integrity over time and will last through the years. Many products are Greenguard Gold Certified, and all production facilities in North America are ISO 9001 certified.

This article was written by Michael Isberto. Isberto is the Blog Director and Content Writer for Colocation America. He received his B.A. in Communication Studies with an emphasis in Public Relations at CSUSB. Isberto is a Communication professional with additional experience in Public Relations, Marketing, and Social Media.