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13 January, 2022 - 10:49 By Tony Quested

Refrigerant innovation to keep climate change in check

DataQube in Cambridge and Italian specialist Primaria are collaborating to create novel refrigerant technology to help keep climate change under control.

The partners say that nextgen cooling products combined with a person-free infrastructure support – requiring less land, energy and raw materials – make for a smaller physical footprint from day one.

DataQube is a global developer of an eco-friendly, ready edge data centre system; Primaria provides intelligent and energy efficient cooling technologies.

Together they are championing the adoption of alternative data centre cooling refrigerants in response to European regulations to phase out greenhouse gases. 

Field trials are underway to establish the feasibility of replacing legacy HFCs (fluorinated hydrocarbons) coolants with a next-generation refrigerant that efficiently carries heat and delivers a lower environmental impact.

The two main refrigerants currently used in data centre cooling systems are R134a and especially R410a. Whilst both have an ozone depletion potential (ODP) of zero, their global warming potential (GWP) ratings of 1430 and 2088, respectively, are a thousand times higher than carbon dioxide. 

R-32 on the other hand, because of its efficient heat conveying capabilities which can reduce total energy usage by up to 10 per cent and due to its chemical structure has a GWP rating that is up to 68 per cent lower at just 675.

David Keegan, CEO of DataQube, said: “The environmental impact of the data centre industry is significant, estimated at between 5-9 per cent of global electricity usage and more than two per cent of all CO2 emissions.

“In light of COP26 targets, the industry as a whole needs to rethink its overall energy usage if it is to become climate neutral by 2030 and our novel system os set to play a major part in green initiatives.”

Henrik Abrink, managing director of Primaria, added: “For data centre service providers it’s important that their operations are state of the art when it comes to energy efficiency and GWP (of the refrigerants used) since it impacts both their balance sheet and their sustainability.

“With the development and implementation of R-32 in the DataQube cooling units we have taken a step further to deliver high added value on both counts in a solution that is already proving to be the most energy efficient  edge data centre system on the market.” 

Unlike conventional data centre infrastructure, DataQube, because of its unique person-free layout, reduces power consumption by as much as 56 per cent and CO2 emissions by the same margin as the energy transfer is primarily dedicated to powering computers. 

Exploiting next generation cooling products such as R-32 together with immersive cooling in its core infrastructure offers the potential to further reduce impact.

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