Data Centres At Risk from Airborne Contamination

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Paul Finch, COO at Kao Data and Chris Muller, Technical Director at Purafil Filtration Group, co-authored an article published by DatacenterDynamics entitled: Dealing with Airborne Contamination.

“This highly technical subject is of key importance as it has a relationship with information technology equipment reliability. Well informed customers recognise that maintaining gaseous and particulate environmental standards within the data centre are explicitly referred to within all of the major server manufactures’ warranties. Working with Purafil, Kao Data are able to dynamically and continuously monitor contamination reassuring customers their equipment warranties will never be put at risk” says Paul.

Data centres, from initial build to refit are dynamic environments. Critical engineering infrastructure upgrades, total equipment change-out, and even simply opening doors or entering or exiting a white space provide opportunities to introduce airborne contaminants. These contaminants can affect electronic equipment, corroding contacts and reducing capabilities to failure point, which can result in costly data center outages. A vital first step is monitoring the  quality of the air within the facility.

Many locations, which are essential for bandwidth and latency requirements of the business, are either within highly populated areas with heightened pollution levels, or on industrial parks where neighbouring businesses may generate pollutants, which then contaminate the data centre.

As data centre owners and operators strive to improve energy-efficiency and lower carbon emissions they continue to invest in research and development driving innovation in data center environmental technologies.

The realization of ‘free-cooling’ has been intrinsic to this approach and although it is recognised direct outside air cooling can exacerbate the contamination issues due to the relatively large volumes of outside air being used to maintain the environmental conditions within the data centre. The same is true, to a lesser extent, even when chilled water, condenser water and indirect outside air systems are used, as Building Regulations and Codes dictate that nominal volumes of outside air must always be provided. Even data centres located in areas without air quality concerns must plan to ensure they can maintain an environment during the life-cycle of the facility that provides protection of sensitive electronic equipment.

For more details, please see the full article is published online at


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