100% compressor free cooling providing ultra high efficiencies

Swansea University

Swansea University is one of the top-ranked and consistently multi-award winning Welsh universities, being voted the student’s choice ‘university of the year’ and in the UK’s top 5 universities for career prospects.

Since 1920, the university’s groundbreaking research and innovation have been making an impact, driving growth and creating a knowledge-rich community, locally, nationally and globally. The global challenges we face today require the university to work across disciplines in collaboration with business, industry and organisations. Swansea University is a top 30 research-intensive University, with over 90% of our research being classed as world-leading or internationally excellent


The basis of the project was relocating an HPC data centre from a facility three miles away to their on-campus Bay Data Centre, consolidating the university’s IT footprint and facilities.

The university also required a refresh and update to the existing facilities so they would be future-proofed and capable of housing the wide range of computing used by the university and its various research faculties, following the success of the HPC data centre energy efficiencies and the power savings provided this technology was utilised along with modernisation to provide improved efficiencies for the entire combined bay campus facility.

Swansea University’s key objectives were to have a resilient, reliable, high-quality facility for its HPC research servers and ancillary equipment. However, we also considered ways to contribute to the sustainable development of the local environment, economy and community in which such a facility would be located by providing a modernised solution of the HPC cooling to provide 100% compressor-free cooling, improving their facility’s efficiency. This included addressing any environmental and energy concerns as part of the decision-making process and the design and build of a data centre that was both future-proofed as well as sustainable. Whilst also fitting with the site constraints for space and noise within this teaching environment.


The works were required to be carried out within a live existing data centre, along with the relocation of the HPC equipment with minimal downtime. During the installation, the IT service could not be disputed in any way. The project was carried out in a phased approach to ensure this facility remained operational, even during UPS, Generator & rack power reconfiguration and the new high-efficiency cooling solution installation. During the project initiation and planning period, the university identified a period during the proposed construction where a change freeze would be in place so there was zero risk to their services. 2bm reconfigured our schedule of work to ensure this date was achieved to finish ahead of schedule.

Swansea University now has a facility it can be proud of for the next decade and beyond. It is a facilities technology that is regarded as being one of the most efficient data centre designs, obtaining DCA and CEEDA awards, with a maximum IT load of 350 kW load requiring that requires only 5 to 6 kW of power to cool it, resulting in ultra-low PUE figures even at low loads.

As well as a reduced carbon footprint, Swansea University enjoys energy savings in excess of £185,000 per year; this significantly reduces payback periods and provides low operations costs OPEX whilst saving 888 tonnes of carbon per year.


Main points of our work

  • Design and supply of new UPS electrical switch board to provide diverse A&B power supplies complete with fully external maintenance bypass and CASTELL interlocking;
  • New A&B power stream to IT equipment utilising plug and play overhead busbar distribution system for HPC equipment;
  • Upgrade of the backup generator to provide increased capacity protection, utilising existing equipment from the decommissioned site;
  • Upgrade of the existing UPS PowerWave 9500 modular UPS and associated battery upgrade to provide 400 kW N+1 power resilience with an autonomy of five minutes to protect the IT and cooling load during power disruptions;
  • Two bespoke 400 kW rated external adiabatic hybrid coolers delivering N+N compressor-free heat rejection providing a cooling solution designed to support the total demand of 400 kW;
  • Stainless steel pipework system, providing with N+1 run/run pump systems, providing optimal efficiency and flow control;
  • A total of 17 rear door heat exchanges with N+1 redundancy, to provide cooling within the Data Centre. 12 no. HPC racks are provided with individual doors allowing 27 kW per rack loading. Shared rear door within the low-density equipment with future connection points allowing any rack to support HPC requirement;
  • Rear door heat exchangers were utilised in a phased approach to allow the IT services to be relocated within minimal down time, and utilised existing equipment where possible to reduce capital expenditure;
  • Dedicated UPS cooling unit with N+1 controls to control the UPS location temperature;
  • Power distribution is provided by overhead busbars providing fully separate A&B power streams to the IT equipment racks. The modular busbar system allow the outlet boxed to be changed to suit the rack power and connectivity requirements without the need for re-cabling and no distribution to any services;
  • In rack zero U vertical PDUs were provided with remote power monitored to allow rack level power monitoring;
  • Power, environmental and heat metering to be integrated into the University’s existing building management system, to provide a site wide monitoring system and remote alerting to key stakeholders,and 2bm maintenance team.

Completion time
The entire project was completed ahead of schedule following a request for the client to ensure their critical clearing operation were not affected. With no additional cost to the client.


In undertaking such a major project, it was critical we had full confidence in our design and build partner. 2bm impressed us, not only with a design that pushed the boundaries of innovation and efficiency but also with their professionalism, implementation, and methodology. A ‘can-do attitude’ in managing the entire project from start to finish resulted in 2bm delivering a high-density, highly resilient data centre ahead of what was an incredibly tight timescale.

Ian Morris – Principal Systems Officer

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