Cooling upgrade results in significant energy savings for university

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Melbourne University

Vertiv, formerly Emerson Network Power, recently supported University of Melbourne’s data centre cooling upgrade, leading to a significant improvement in energy efficiency. By installing Liebert Electrically Commutated (EC) fans to the University’s computer room air conditioning (CRAC) units in place of traditional AC fans, the University was able to reduce its energy use by over 70%.

The University of Melbourne is the second oldest university in Australia, and consistently ranked internationally as the top University in the country, as well as among the top 50 worldwide. It engaged Vertiv to assess the potential power savings that could be achieved through modernising its data centre. Tests were conducted before and after the installation of EC fans to do this.

“We expect this to save us more than $2,000 per year,” said Mike Jerrard, operations lead at the University of Melbourne’s IT Department. “Along with cost savings, Vertiv is helping us achieve our 2016-20 Sustainability Plan, which will set pathways for the University’s longer term sustainability objectives, including a transition to carbon neutrality by 2030.”

EC fans are more efficient than traditional AC fans as they use permanent magnets instead of a secondary magnetic field in the motor. Because they are electronically controlled, there is no need to waste energy to start the rotor, which leads to better efficiency and performance.

EC fans also do not require changes to the belt and pulley system – the equivalent of replacing a fan belt in a car. These need to be inspected at least once per year, often leading to a replacement. The process is lengthy and can take half a day or more. EC fans also have a longer service life than conventional AC fans, meaning reductions in maintenance cost and time.

“The University of Melbourne has a huge focus on energy efficiency,” said Robert Linsdell, managing director, Australia and New Zealand, Vertiv. “The renewable energy initiatives and movement away from carbon are testament to that, but the University also recognises that seemingly small changes like this in the data centre can have a major positive impact.”

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