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Ten in one: QUANTUM chiller and SPECTRUM heat pump provide pioneering momentum for data centres

28 April 2023

From telecommunications and research to finance and traffic – in our digital age, data centres are increasingly shaping our economy and society, and are thus part of our critical infrastructure. Reliability, flexibility, availability and efficiency requirements are correspondingly demanding. In order to fulfil these requirements as well as possible, operating companies must tackle several obstacles. One of the most challenging but also key disciplines is the continuous cooling supply for server rooms, which is also being continuously optimised. Even minor fluctuations in the required room temperature affect the reliability of IT devices and thus the availability of system-relevant data. Reliable chillers and heat pumps are essential in preventing such fluctuations. ENGIE Refrigeration is currently demonstrating this fact, in an extensive project involving ten data centres in Germany’s metropolitan areas. They belong to an edge data centre platform set up by a German provider, who has chosen to localise their data business and provide the relevant computing power to end users over the shortest possible distance – a novel approach for Germany. For this progressive and small-scale concept to work, all the components of the cooling and heating supply must harmonise perfectly with one another.

Sustainable utilisation of waste heat in data centres

ENGIE Refrigeration masters this challenge with concentrated machine power: nine air-cooled QUANTUM Air chillers with integrated free cooling and a cooling capacity of 6.75 megawatts, seven SPECTRUM Water heat pumps in a container with a heating capacity of 5.25 megawatts, and three QUANTUM Air chillers with green heat recovery (GHR) with a cooling capacity of 2.25 megawatts ensure the smooth operation and optimal cooling and heating supply of the IT buildings. In the process, each model plays to its strengths: the air-cooled QUANTUM chiller with optional heat recovery and 2.5 megawatts (green heat recovery) brings the server rooms of each individual data centre to the optimum temperature and allows the waste heat generated by the cooling process to be utilised. Jürgen Martin, Key Account Manager for Data Centers at ENGIE Refrigeration, explains: ‘Thanks to our cooling and heating supply concept, our customers are in a clear win-win situation: by scaling down to smaller data centres and utilising the heat recovery technology of our chiller, the customer can now make the waste heat from each data centre available to individual local interested parties. This way, the generated energy is deployed in the best interests of society and the economy. Reusing the waste heat, which would otherwise simply be released into the environment, also allows the customer to reduce energy consumption by up to 60 per cent.’ With this value, ENGIE Refrigeration easily exceeds the current ecological requirements for the industry, which oblige operating companies to reduce their carbon emissions by around 30 per cent by 2025 on a voluntary basis – an important step towards climate neutrality.

Highly efficient supply from the QUANTUM chiller

In winter and during cool transition periods, the QUANTUM Air chiller with integrated free cooling module guarantees maximum energy efficiency. It really comes into its own as soon as the ambient temperature drops below the chilled water temperature – and goes perfectly with the process cooling required at the data centre. For its cooling supply, the developers of the QUANTUM chiller chose a non-glycol concept, a solution that is rarely used. Jürgen Martin explains: ‘The free cooling module runs on glycol, while the machine itself is operated with water. As a result, both areas are highly efficient, and the operating companies have lower energy costs in the long term.’ The models in the QUANTUM series provide an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) for data centres that is both climate-friendly and powerful. In the event of a power outage, the innovative fast-restart technology (FRS) ensures the full cooling supply in just three minutes. The customer can therefore be certain that all the highly sensitive devices and systems in the data centre receive timely cooling – so that data loss and failures due to overheating cannot occur.

SPECTRUM Water heat pump in a container for the first time

The QUANTUM Air chiller is joined by the SPECTRUM Water heat pump, which has an outlet temperature of 65 degrees Celsius and an output of 6.5 megawatts and completes the supply concept – now in a compact container for the first time. This design is easy to transport and flexible in terms of use. In addition, the heat pump inside the container provides an outstanding performance. But it never drops the ball on energy efficiency and climate-friendliness: like the QUANTUM series, it uses the waste heat from the server rooms at the data centre as its heat source. It also operates only with the refrigerant R-1234ze, which has a low global warming potential (GWP value = 1).

ENGIE Refrigeration secures data centre

Jürgen Martin explains: ‘Thanks to the unbeatable combination of our QUANTUM chiller and our SPECTRUM heat pump, our customer benefits in multiple ways: they can complete their concept for local data centres perfectly by adding an efficient cooling and heating supply. As well as saving running costs at the data centre, this also considerably reduces the customer’s carbon footprint. The customer can also be certain of absolute reliability, which secures the data supply for businesses and society in the metropolitan areas of Germany. In short, thanks to the reliable cooling and heating technology from ENGIE Refrigeration, our customer can fully exploit the potential offered by digitisation. They are ready for the future!

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