Deployment of airside economizers (ASEs) in data centers is rapidly gaining acceptance to reduce cost of cooling energy by reducing hours of operation of computer room air conditioning (CRAC) units. Airside economization has associated risk of introducing gaseous and particulate contamination into data centers, thus degrading the reliability of information technology (IT) equipment. The challenge is to determine reliability degradation of IT equipment if operated in environmental conditions outside American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommended envelope with contamination severity levels higher than G1. This paper is a first attempt at addressing this challenge by studying the cumulative corrosion damage to IT equipment operated in an experimental modular data center (MDC) located in an industrial area with measured level of air contaminants in ISA severity level G2. This study serves several purposes including: correlating IT equipment reliability to levels of airborne corrosive contaminants and studying degree of reliability degradation when IT equipment is operated outside ASHRAE recommended envelope at a location with high levels of contaminants. Reliability degradation of servers exposed to outside air via an airside economizer was determined qualitatively by examining corrosion of components in these servers and comparing the results to corrosion of components in other similar servers that were stored in a space where airside economization was not used. In the 4 years of the modular data center's servers' operation, none of the servers failed. This observation highlights an opportunity to significantly save data center cooling energy by allowing IT equipment to operate outside the currently recommended and allowable ASHRAE envelopes and outside the ISA severity level G1.

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