Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Project Name: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Location: Blacksburg, VA
Type: Data Center

Background

Founded in 2000, the Biocomplexity Institute of Virginia Tech is located on the college’s main campus in Blacksburg, Virginia. Steger Hall houses the Institute and its efforts to solve the world’s most complex problems. 

VA Tech Data Center Hydromx® Demonstration
Virginia Tech was challenged to reach a solution that would respond to added heat load and limited data center space constraints.

The Institute’s modeling and simulation research require a state-of-the-art data center. This data center comprises 200+ teraflops, 8600 CPU cores, and 45TB RAM of computing power. These servers are cooled by three CRAC units and nine chilled doors, all of which now employ Hydromx as the heat transfer fluid to reject the heat from the space. The Hydromx fluid loop is cooled by campus chilled water through a heat exchanger for most of the year. During the shutdown season for the campus chilled water, the Hydromx fluid loop rejects the heat through a roof-mounted dry cooler. The Biocomplexity Institute owns and manages the system; and, thus, is very involved with the analytics behind optimizing the equipment via their building automation system.

Challenge

In 2017, the Biocomplexity Institute outgrew its current data center and needed to retrofit a plant-growth lab into a data center quickly and within budget. With the need to expand and make the most of the retrofit space, the Institute was challenged to reach a solution that would respond to the added heat load and space constraints. In addition, NASA provided gently-used cooling equipment. Although the cooling equipment met the needed load, NASA’s original equipment was selected for water and not glycol. After receiving advice from the design-build team, the facility managers selected Hydromx for its unique combination of improved thermal performance compared to water and its glycol freeze protection properties.

Solution

In December 2017, the Institute switched from water to Hydromx for the data center’s closed-loop system. Hydromx’s nanotechnology allowed the Institute to come in under budget by allowing it to reuse existing equipment for the added load.

VA Tech Hydromx® diagram
Virginia Tech’s servers are cooled by 3 CRAC units and nine chilled doors, all of which employ Hydromx as the
heat transfer fluid to reject the heat from the space.

Results

The Institute’s new data center is a model of progress for efficiency when challenged with high-density server loads. The Institute was able to design its new space to handle increased loads and projected growth and repurpose existing cooling equipment for the additional load.