University of Hull - A super performance Dew Point cooler for data centres


Spring 2021

The UK Data Centres (DCs) have an estimated overall power capacity of 4.5GW and average Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) of 2.5. Out of the total energy delivered to the UK DCs, 30% - 40% is used for space cooling to remove a tremendous amount of heat dissipated from the IT equipment.

The traditional cooling equipment for DCs is based on the mechanical vapour compression principle with Coefficient of Performance (COP) of 2 to 3, leading to the energy-intensive operation. Several alternative cooling technologies have been introduced but they are all inapplicable to DCs.

With over 15-years' continuous endeavour, the applicants at the University of Hull (UHULL) have developed a super performance dew point cooler (with COP of 52.5) which can lead to 50%-90% reduction in electricity consumption and carbon emission compared to traditional systems. To-date, this technology has won two internaitonal innovation awards, i.e, World Society sustainable energy technologies 3rd round innovation award, and 2018 UK Rushlight Innovation Award.

The proposed project aims to construct the aforementioned technology in order to demonstrate it in a data centre in Hull City. This project is led by University of Hull along with NPS Humber Ltd (NPS) and Environmental Process Systems (EPS). The combined effort of the partners will bring this technology from the current status of TRL6 (validated in laboratory and industrial workshop) to TRL8 (demonstration of the technology in a live Data Centre environment). This will result in bringing the innovative dew point cooling technology into real world business, which will open up an enormous Data Centres cooling market.

The overall aim of the project is to construct a specialist Data Centre dew point cooler and demonstrate it in Hull City. This will lead to smooth transition of the laboratory-validated and award-winning technology into a commerical product. The specific objectives of the project are:

  • (1) Data Centre survey;
  • (2) prototype design and optimisation;
  • (3) prototype construction;
  • (4) site installation and field testing, and
  • (5) data collection, demonstration and exploitation.

Although this technology has been laboratory approved with the claimed energy saving and carbon reduction rate, no evidences have yet been establsihed with its fittability and reliability for the use in Data Centres. This project fills the aforementioned gaps by demonstrating and qualifying the specialist dew point coolers in a live Data Centre environment. Furthermore, it will contribute to mitigating the risks of the manufacturer and Data Centre operater on R&D investment, and also, brings together the experts from the university, manufacturer and Data Centre operator to complete the technology transfer and engineering applications.

Dwain Cox, Project Manager
NPS Humber