Continuous rise in cloud computing and other web-based services propelled the data center proliferation seen over the past decade. Traditional data centers use vapor-compression-based cooling units that not only reduce energy efficiency but also increase operational and initial investment costs due to involved redundancies. Free air cooling and airside economization can substantially reduce the IT Equipment (ITE) cooling power consumption, which accounts for approximately 40% of energy consumption for a typical air-cooled data center. However, this cooling approach entails an inherent risk of exposing the IT equipment to harmful ultrafine particulate contaminants, thus, potentially reducing the equipment and component reliability. The present investigation attempts to quantify the effects of particulate contamination inside the data center equipment and ITE room using CFD. An analysis of the boundary conditions to be used was done by detailed modeling of IT equipment and the data center white space. Both 2-D and 3-D simulations were done for detailed analysis of particle transport within the server enclosure. An analysis of the effect of the primary pressure loss obstructions like heat sinks and DIMMs inside the server was done to visualize the localized particle concentrations within the server. A room-level simulation was then conducted to identify the most vulnerable locations of particle concentration within the data center space. The results show that parameters such as higher velocities, heat sink cutouts, and higher aspect ratio features within the server tend to increase the particle concentration inside the servers.

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