EcoStream Offers the Benefits of CFD at a Fraction of the Cost

This audio was created using Microsoft Azure Speech Services

Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modeling is a valuable tool for data center owners and operators. By running a CFD analysis, you can see exactly how hot and cool air is flowing throughout your data center, and identify any areas where airflow isn’t what it should be. Maybe there’s cabling restricting air flow under your raised floor, or you’ve got too many high density racks for your existing cooling system to handle.

But CFD analysis, historically, is also quite expensive. It generally requires engineers with expertise in CFD to come in with specialized (read: expensive) software and spend lots of time building a model of your data center before they can run the analysis. The job can easily run into tens of thousands of dollars.

But Schneider Electric is offering quite the attractive alternative. At the recent 2104 AHR Expo in New York, the company was demonstrating its EcoStream software. Part of the StruxureWare family, EcoStream is an easy to use CFD application that makes CFD analysis readily available to end users.

At the event I got a demonstration of EcoStream from David Roden, who is Business Development Manager in the Schneider Electric Cooling Line of Business. As you can see in the video we shot of the demonstration (above) users build a model of their data centers and input it into EcoStream. (It’s the same model that you use for other StruxureWare modules, so there’s no re-inventing the wheel.)  EcoStream then runs its computations and comes back with a color-coded map of the data center, with potential problem areas in yellow and serious problems in red.

At that point, users can run “what-if” analyses. In the demo, Roden moved a couple of in-row cooling units into some high-density racks, then ran the analysis again. This time, the map came back all green – problem solved.

While that, of course, was a simple example suitable for a trade show demonstration, it was easy to see how EcoStream could be a valuable tool for any data center operator. You can play around with different configurations of racks, cooling units, perforated tiles and the like to see what works best. When you have new servers coming in, for example, you can run a quick CFD analysis to help determine the best spot for them – a great complement to other StruxureWare components that also help in that regard.

Customers have two avenues to access EcoStream. Schneider Electric partners can access it at no charge through the Schneider Electric Design Portal and can run analyses for you, or you can buy it as a module for StruxureWare and run it whenever you like. Either way, EcoStream offers an easy to use CFD solution that Roden says is nearly as accurate as what you’d get from an outside engineering firm at a fraction of the cost.

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  • There is no doubt it is easy to create scenarios in which result from a simplified solution technique (e.g. Potential Flow) predict similar solutions as a traditional full RANS solution to the Navier-Stokes equations. However, it is equally simple, and in my experience, more likely for realistic data center scenarios to show that ignoring significant parts of the physics in a simplified solution produces completely different and misleading results compared with RANS solution.

    In any case, and frequency of misleading results aside, how can you expect a non-expert to know when the solution is a good one? Given that underlying question, is it reasonable to ask non-experts to use the simplified approach when so much is at stake in an operating data enter?

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