- Software. Yes, software. The data center was once home to countless software packages (CDs, manuals, etc.) for enterprise desktop support. Since all those boxes were just sitting around—and about the right size (5″ x 7″)—facilities managers used them to block off cable openings in empty racks.
- Foam peanuts. Inventive? Yes. Fire safe? No. We don’t know the whole story of how they were held in place, but they were called out by the fire marshal as not fire safe, so they had to go. The site manager replaced them with fire safe PolarDam air dam foam.
- Cardboard. This is no surprise given its ubiquity except for the obvious fire danger. In haste to achieve energy savings, this operator overlooked the potential to actually accelerate a possible fire by packing kindling throughout his data center.
- Rags. This is an odd example because there’s no reason to suspect the data center operator already had quantities of rags on hand, so they must have intentionally purchased a large quantity of new clean rags to plug air gaps. Probably not as bad as cardboard or software but certainly not up to code. PolarDam to the rescue again.
- Packing foam. Think about that pink packing foam that protects new-in-box computers and servers. Now imagine you’re supposed to wedge pieces of this rigid foam into air gaps of different shapes and sizes. It sounds like a nightmare, maybe even punishment, but definitely awkward and inefficient. Clearly not “the right tool for the job.”
- Wood. Scraps of wood. If I didn’t hear this myself, I’m not sure I would believe it. Is there any good use for wood in the data center? How does one fashion a custom wood block “air dam” on site without multiple cuts and resulting saw dust? If I hadn’t invented PolarDam, I think I’d sooner recommend fiber, reeds and pitch.
Existing data centers protected with FM200 or other clean agent systems can be a challenge to contain because the cost of adding or moving nozzles is very high. One alternative has been the use of electronic fuse links that trigger off the FM200 system. Though the links are pricey (about $250 each) and need testing, it is a workable solution that can still offer an ROI that meets project goals.
The electronic links pictured above where installed on a hot aisle containment system pictured below. The site has a ceiling with two levels and the FM200 nozzles are installed in the lower section of the ceiling. The curtains were installed with a gap above them to allow some air movement (so not total isolation) in order to assure that air flow to the existing smoke detectors were not obstructed.
These links have an electronic trigger off a signal from the FM200 system as well as a thermally activated mechanism. The wiring requirements are similar to those for smoke detectors and is through conduit that you can see in the above picture. The other wires are tethers to stop the fall of the curtain after it drops about two feet to clear the FM200 nozzles.
A customer did a burn test on Polargy’s PolarDAM Air Dam Foam and posted it on Youtube. Of course, we were happy to see that the foam performs as specified and is self extinguishing.
Interestingly, I visited another customer who had put a few pieces of our air dam foam in an environmental test chamber to see how well it withstands high temperatures and varying temperatures. I had no idea that they were doing this until my visit. We examined the sample pieces and could see no indication of the foam decaying. I was surprised to learn he had this test running for the past three months.