Project Name: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Location: Blacksburg, VA
Type: Data Center
Founded in 1872, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University – “Virginia Tech” has a 2,600-acre main campus in Blacksburg, Virginia, and enrolls 28,000 graduate and undergraduate students each year. Steger Hall on-campus houses Virginia Tech’s Biocomplexity Institute which is home to purely research efforts.
Among the laboratories lies a data center that runs 200+ teraflops, 8600 CPU cores, and 45TB RAM of computing power. These servers are cooled by 3 CRAC units and 9 chilled-doors all of which employ Hydromx as the heat transfer fluid to reject the heat from the space. For most of the year, the Hydromx fluid loop is cooled by campus chilled water through a heat exchanger. During the shutdown season for the campus chilled water, the Hydromx fluid loop rejects the heat through a roof-mounted dry cooler. Virginia Tech 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, Virginia Tech outgrew its current data center and needed to retrofit a chemistry lab into a data center quickly and within budget. With the need to expand and make the most of the retrofit space, Virginia Tech was challenged to reach a solution that would respond to added heat load and limited space constraints. Virginia Tech acquired the gently-used cooling equipment from NASA. Unfortunately, the cooling equipment met the needed load; however, NASA’s original equipment was selected for water and not glycol. After receiving advice from Oak Ridge National Laboratory to use Hydromx, the facility managers selected Hydromx for its unique combination of improved thermal performance when compared to water and its glycol freeze protection properties.
Solution: In December 2017, Virginia Tech switched from water to Hydromx for the data center closed-loop system. Hydromx’s nanotechnology allowed Virginia Tech to come in under budget by allowing them to reuse existing equipment for the added load.
Results: Virginia Tech’s new data center is a model of progress for efficiency when challenged with high-density server loads. Virginia Tech was able to design its new space to handle increased loads, projected growth needs, and re-purpose existing cooling equipment for the additional load.
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