Measurement and Management Technologies for Data Centers - Corrosion Management and Monitoring

The recent interest in air-side cooling and the spread of data centers into geographies with higher levels of atmospheric contamination is requiring more attention towards air quality management in data centers. One concern of air side economization is an increase in contamination levels, potentially leading to more failures and outages of the IT equipment. Appropriate corrosion monitors for data center applications have not yet been developed. The challenge lies in the required sensitivity and communication interface to integrate sensors in control loops to adjust the amount of outside air intakes. Corrosion is a concern even at rates as low as 1 nm per day. In order to manage appropriate filter technologies and the daily use of free cooling, it is makes sense to measure the corrosion impact on a daily basis. Current state-of-the-art corrosion monitors can not detect such low corrosion rates, which makes the management of “free cooling” challenging and for many customers too risky. In order to address this shortcoming we have developed and designed a real-time ultras sensitive corrosion sensor. The advantage of this device lies in its small dimensions leveraging IBM’s nanotechnology capabilities, which result into massively improved sensitivity, compact packaging , and integrated signal processing.

Corrosion sensors are Silver and Copper thin films deposited on thermal conductive substrates. The film thickness reduction, due to electrochemical processes, result in an increased resistance with specific response from Silver and Copper films due to different interaction with to the surrounding environment. In our approach, the corrosion rates are measured simultaneously with air flow, temperature and humidity at the sensor locations , providing a complete understanding of the corrosion mechanism and pinpointing the main corrosion driving mechanism. Due to high sensitivity (<0.1 nm film thickness change) daily temporal variation of corrosion rate, from day to night, or seasonal variation are detected.

Wafer scale corrosion sensor and real time corrosion signal display with additional temperature, humidity and air flow measurements across the data center.

The daily temporal variation of corrosion rates between high and low contamination levels, enables the air side economization usage during low contamination periods in geographical locations where contamination is a concern. The signal processing interface and communication protocol was developed both for wired and wireless signal acquisition. Corrosion sensors were deployed in worldwide pilot studies to monitor contamination levels in data centers and IT equipment production sites.


1). Corrosion Management for Data Centers, L. J. Klein, P. J. Singh, M. Schappert, Marc Griffel, H. F. Hamann, Proceedings of 2011 Semitherm,$File/rc25120.pdf

Semitherm presentation

2). Gaseous and Particulate Contamination Limits for Data Centers, Ashrae TC 9.9 white paper (2009)

3). M. Cole, L. Hedlund,G.Hutt, T. Kiraly, L.J. Klein, S. Nickel, P.J. Singh, and T. Tofil, Harsh Environment Impact on Resistor Reliability, SMTAI,Orlando,FL (2010)


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