Here’s the secret ingredient in the digital economy: data center chillers. All those enormous data centers that keep track of your bank account, work emails and lunch orders get very hot, requiring state-of-the-art cooling technology to keep them functional and efficient.
We recently got to see how these enormous machines are made, courtesy of Modine Manufacturing, which opened its first data center chiller production plant in Rockbridge, Virginia, back in November. NAM Senior Director of Photography David Bohrer captured the production line in action, while several of Modine’s leaders spoke to the NAM at a later date about the technology involved.
Why chillers? The demand for data center chillers rises with the demand for data, which seems to be pretty much endless nowadays.
- As Darren Farrar, Modine’s global head of marketing for data centers, explained, “Data centers are always on; they are constantly processing data and therefore producing heat. They use a lot of energy, so any incremental improvements we can make [in cooling technology] can make a lot of difference to energy bills.”
- That’s where Modine comes in. Though chillers have been around since the 1920s, the needs of the digital economy mean that further innovation and specialization are always necessary.
How it works: A chiller provides cool water to the data center building while removing the heat that is returned from it, in an endless cycle.
- Modine’s chillers have two circuits, one of which uses outdoor air to chill the water, in a process called “free cooling,” explained Rob Bedard, general manager of data centers, North America. It’s a method that provides considerable energy savings.
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