Written by Eamonn Ryan

Camfil was one of several HVAC&R companies to participate in the Pan- African Data Centres Exhibition and Conference in Johannesburg in June. RACA Journal interviewed Camfil’s managing director for Middle East and Africa Stéphane Ruiz at the event.

Camfil, a world leading filtration company headquartered in Stockholm, has been providing air filtration solutions for 60 years now. With a network of factories and sister companies worldwide, the company plays a crucial role in maintaining clean and contaminant-free air in the data centre market.

Stéphane Ruiz, managing director for Middle East and Africa, says large volumes of air circulate continuously in data centres, mainly for cooling purpose, but explaining their need for clean air filtration. As an air filtration solution provider, Camfil’s products significantly reduce contaminants and ensure the highest air quality possible. “While the presence of pollutants might seem less consequential in data centres compared to hospitals for example, the consequences can nonetheless be severe. Pollutants, including particulate matter, but also corrosive contaminants, can have detrimental effects on their equipment and overall operations.”

For example, Ruiz explains, dust creates clogging of the filters but will also have an impact on the other HVAC components, decreasing their efficiency and increasing their energy consumption. High pressure in filters will lead to quick filter changeout, resulting in high operational downtime. Salt particle and corrosive gases will cause failures of switches, PCBs and corrosion of exposed metallic surfaces.

“Moreover, the HVAC system of a data centre has huge power requirements. Good air filters can help to improve the PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness), saving a lot of energy. Keeping in mind also that spent air filters create waste, it is important to ensure their minimum impact on the environment and high-quality filters with long life will help in reducing the carbon footprint. This last part is becoming more and more important as data centre operators undertake projects with targets to be carbon neutral or even carbon negative in the near future.”

Camfil addresses these challenges by offering comprehensive filtration solutions. Its filters are designed to capture dust particles, bacteria, viruses, and even molecules, ensuring the highest level of air purity.

While today, the efficiency standards for data centres might not require HEPA systems, we may see this coming in the future as some pollutants may already require EPA grade. Camfil’s filters provide an effective barrier against pollutants, striking a balance between filtration efficiency, energy savings and practicality, he explains.

Choosing the right filtration system

Ruiz notes one thing to keep in mind: “Data centre location and environmental conditions should be taken into consideration when defining the right air filtration system. Data centres located in Johannesburg or Lagos would have different needs. Using the right filter will not only help users maintain healthy indoor air quality but will also help to save energy and money. Some standards introduced a new and objective system for classifying energy efficiency, so it is now easier for users to find the right air filter for the lowest energy usage and highest indoor quality.”

The Eurovent Certita Certification for Air Filters is based on the EN ISO 16890-1:2016, which is a third-party certification for air filters, providing information such as pressure drop, ePM efficiency, rating for energy classification and annual energy consumption.

The ISA 71.04-2013, on the other hand, gives precious guidelines when it comes to corrosivity reaction from some specific gases.

As availability of the data centre is crucial, Camfil wants to help data centre operators and facilities management teams to make good decisions at the right moment when it comes to air filter management. A lot of progress has been done in this field, and prediction is something Camfil is able to offer through various services:

  • Realtime monitoring of the corrosive gases
  • Realtime monitoring of the environmental conditions linked to air filters, and
  • Life cycle costing (LCC)

“To help data centre operators and consultants on the engineering phase and for the construction of new data centres but it may also apply when speaking of old data centres to be retrofitted, Camfil can predict the filter cost over its lifetime in the system; its Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). This is thanks to its powerful and proprietary LCC modelling tool (life cycle costing software). Taking into consideration all the hidden costs such as: energy, labour, disposal, carbon footprint, LCC will predict the optimum filter solution, and the optimum filter change-out to optimise energy usage and filter life based on actual operating parameters of the facility,” says Ruiz.

Who is Camfil

While data centres form a part of Camfil’s extensive portfolio, the company’s activities span various industries, focusing on the protection of the people, processes and environment. Its wide range of applications includes comfort (airports, shopping malls, museums), clean process (pharmaceutical, food and beverage, automotive, eMobility, semiconductor, space industry) and containment (biosafety laboratories, nuclear power plant). Camfil is also active through other specialised divisions: Molecular Contamination Control (molecular filtration), Air Pollution Control (dust, mist and fume collection), and Power Systems (turbomachinery protection for power generation and oil and gas).