Over the last decade, several hyper-scale data center companies such as Google, Facebook, and Microsoft have demonstrated the cost-saving capabilities of airside economization with direct/indirect heat exchangers by moving to chiller-less air-cooled data centers. Under pressure from data center owners, IT equipment OEMs like Dell and IBM are developing IT equipment that can withstand peak excursion temperature ratings of up to 45°C, clearly outside the recommended envelope, and into ASHRAE's A4 allowable envelope. As popular and widespread as these cooling technologies are becoming, airside economization comes with its challenges. There is a risk of pre-mature hardware failures or reliability degradation posed by uncontrolled fine particulate and gaseous contaminants in presence of temperature and humidity transients. This paper presents an in-depth review of the particulate and gaseous contamination-related challenges faced by the modern-day data center facilities that use airside economization. This review summarizes specific experimental and computational studies to characterize the airborne contaminants and associated failure modes and mechanisms. In addition, standard lab-based and in-situ test methods for measuring the corrosive effects of the particles and the corrosive gases, as the means of testing the robustness of the equipment against these contaminants, under different temperature and relative humidity conditions are also reviewed. It also outlines the cost-sensitive mitigation techniques like improved filtration strategies and methods that can be utilized for efficient implementation of airside economization.

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