Keeping The Buried Treasures of Iron Mountain Cool is a Full-Time Job

iron mountain

Buried deep within a 100-year-old former limestone mine in rural Pennsylvania you will find billions of dollars of ‘treasure.’ However, far from being something out of a pirate movie, Iron Mountain is the home of some of the world’s greatest assets; carefully protected under stringent conditions.

“Iron Mountain stores and protects billions of valued assets, including critical business information, highly sensitive data, and cultural and historical artefacts. Providing solutions that include information managementdigital transformationsecure storagesecure destruction, as well as data centrescloud services and art storage and logistics, Iron Mountain helps customers lower cost and risk, comply with regulations, recover from disaster, and enable a more digital way of working.” (Source)

With customers, which include almost all the Fortune 1000 companies to the U.S. government itself depending on the security and reliability of this facility, it’s no wonder they required the very best HVAC system on the market.

The Challenges of Chilling Iron Mountain

At 67+ meters underground, and with the secrets of the world tucked away in their secure servers, Iron Mountain executives knew that their choice of chiller for their data centre would be a critical one.

The factors affecting their HVAC decision included, among others;

  • Energy consumption
  • Reliability
  • Efficiency at full or partial load
  • Easy of management

The cooling and ventilation requirements for a growing data centre can be something of a moving target, with fluctuation heat and humidity levels which need to be closely managed.

“Extended heating problems within a server room can cause system faults and even permanent damage to hard drives and servers; this can lead to significant downtime for businesses and can cause serious issues with data loss if you don’t have other backups.” (Source)

For a business like Iron Mountain where loss of data would include critical information, this is simply not an option. In addition, the mid-term plans included an extension of the data centre which would automatically increase the heat load on the chiller system.

However, there is more to factor in than just temperature.

Engineer Steve Crane highlights the impact of humidity levels in a data centre. “High humidity can have a variety of negative effects on common integrated circuits.  Continual operation in humid environments can decrease the insulation resistance in electrolytic capacitors, for example.  Transistors can also experience increased leakage current and reduced gain, as well.  However, the most problematic exposure of electronics to humid environments involves the formation of condensation on internal components.  If a device is moved from a cool environment to one that is warm and humid, circuit boards may become coated in moisture.  If the device is powered before this condensation can evaporate, short circuits between component interconnects can lead to device failure.

“Also important is protecting electronics from low humidity environments, which can lead to static electricity discharge that results in irreversible damage to components.”

Constant temperature and humidity, optimal efficiency, absolute reliability, and eco-friendly: there was only one viable solution.

Iron Mountain’s Chilling Solution

Chuck Doughty, Vice President Engineering at Iron Mountain said, “The Evergreen® 23XRV chiller is an exceptional product. The efficiency has been even greater than we expected.”

This incredible product easily satisfied the exacting requirements of Iron Mountain.

The Carrier Evergreen® 23XRV chiller with Foxfire™ offers a simple yet pioneering tri-rotor compressor design. This reduces the number of moving parts, uses less lubrication oil and eliminates the slide valve. In addition, they satisfy the rigorous requirements of ASME code by means of their robust heat exchangers.

AHI Carrier says of their unique product, “Carrier’s hermetic motors operate in a clean refrigerant-cooled environment and are not exposed to the hot, dirty air that may be present in the mechanical room. The hermetic design eliminates the potential for shaft seal leaks and refrigerant/oil loss. Efficiency The 23XRV variable speed-screw chiller has the ability to reduce speed and optimize operation independent of ambient conditions. This unique capability permits the chiller to precisely match building load and conserve energy.”

This innovative water-cooled variable-speed screw chiller has been designed to combine energy saving, reliability, and super-high efficiency levels – operating effectively at all operating conditions. Further advanced design decisions have prompted Carrier to use a non-ozone depleting refrigerant which is both safe and environmentally friendly.

From an ease-of-use perspective, all the Evergreen chillers from Carrier come with simple onboard controls which offer over 125 operating and diagnostic tools in several languages.

Carrier is incredibly proud of their product and the excellent rating they have achieved.

“The Evergreen 23XRV chiller also played an important role in the data centre’s quest to receive a top industry rating. The chillers’ stellar performance in fail-safe testing by an outside agency helped to secure the facility a “10” rating, the best in the data centre industry.

“Rich Benkowski, Commercial Sales Representative at Pittsburgh-based Standard Air and Light, commented, “The chillers performed beautifully in the testing. Under no circumstances did they fail. That contributed to Iron Mountain’s receiving a “10” rating.””

Chuck Doughty says, “We’ve been so pleased we’re planning to acquire two more 23XRV chillers in the near future.”

With this unique and successful Iron Mountain project under our belt, we at AHI Carrier are certain that we can satisfy the needs of the most challenging chiller installation. Give our team a call today.


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