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Articles by Kevin Dickens, P.E.

The Evolution Revolution In Data Center Design

The recent leaps forward in data center cooling may not quite rival the progress from hand calculation to CFD, but progress has been fast and furious nonetheless. The road to efficiency has widened as the cooling focus has narrowed from the room’s air to the room’s equipment. How did we get here? And what would a potential next step - chip-level cooling - entail? Read, reflect, and ponder.
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Of Sausage And Servers

In which the author isn’t trying to stir up trouble, really. As a society, we may not like to know exactly how the demands of modern technology get supported. But as designers, we have a duty to hone in on the physics of the data center situation, avoiding prefab filler and delivering answers that cut the mustard.
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Overcoming Hot Aisle / Cold Aisle Separation Anxiety

Here in the second of two parts, the author is reminded that data center design is no vacation. He does, however, discover that what doesn’t work on the road to Orlando doesn’t work in the data cen-ter, either. What to do? Truly isolating the heat at its origin and backing around to a classic VAV pressure reset strategy eventually yielded a cool solution for everyone not working in the hot aisle.

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This Time, Water Cooled Was All Wet

A data center the size of a football field and an owner with sustainable mandates made it hard for this project team to just take the conventional wisdom and run with it. In part one of two, the author winds up eating some crow but conquers the problem. Get ready for an old-school system comparison, but focus on rack entering conditions instead of average space conditions, and check those design expectations at the door.

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Wet and Wild Data Centers

Our society’s thirst for computing power, which began even before Windows® squashed DOS, may be pointing designers toward a fitting new option for handling spiraling heat loads in data centers: liquid cooling.Stick your toe in and review these water-based ideas, as well as glimpses of other innovations such as in-cabinet cooling coils and heat exchangers located within the server itself.
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Southern Discomfort (Part II)

What are some region-specific strategies for minimizing mold and other regional IAQ problems? Consider DOAS, special VAV factors, and the ongoing case of plenum vs. ducted returns. Also, pay attention to pressurization and function in the design phase, lest you come under a less comfortable form of pressure later from the owner of a moldy building.
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UFAD UFOs: (Unsubstantiated and/or False Obfuscations)

With an unconventional approach and now LEED® implications, underfloor air garners a variety of opinions these days. The author considers the sources and examines the alleged pros and cons. What about leakage? Or mold? Or the cold foot hypothesis? Could you ever really need more outside air for heating than cooling? For insights on these and other mysteries, read on. The truth is under there.
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Southern Discomfort Part I

I have to admit, I’ve never seen the movie A Streetcar Named Desire, but I think most of us know that scene when Brando bellows, “Stella ... .” Frankly, I don’t even know who Stella is or why he is yelling for her, but it’s a safe bet that in the New Orleans of the 1950s, whoever Stella was, she probably heard the guy yelling from the courtyard through her open window. Today, I doubt she would. With the advance of air conditioning across the American South, fewer windows are open.

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IEQ & UFAD: Where Should You Stand When The Dust Settles?

With LEED® in the fore for more and more owners and consultants, underfloor air is sometimes seen as a quick boost toward certification. On the other hand, some also view UFAD as an air quality problem in waiting. Alas, a rash decision to design with UFAD can indeed lead to regret later on. However, deploying UFAD wisely and in the right situations can increase the LEED window of success, empower occupants, and provide comparable or even superior interior results. By Kevin Dickens, P.E.
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