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We are delighted to announce that 2bm’s design and build project for the Medical Research Council (MRC) at the London Institute of Medical Sciences has been shortlisted in two categories at this year’s DCS Awards:

DATA CENTRE DESIGN & BUILD PROJECT OF THE YEAR
DATA CENTRE COOLING INNOVATION OF THE YEAR

The DCS Awards celebrate the data centre industry’s most impressive achievements, recognising customer success stories, technology innovation and both individual and company contributions to the sector.

Project shortlisted: New data centre designed and built for the Medical Research Council (MRC) London Institute of Medical Sciences (LMS), appended to Hammersmith Hospital.

What was the driving force behind the project – what business or technology challenge needed to be addressed?

There was a requirement to provide absolute control of the IT facility from any external factors, therefore it was critical that all data centre specific infrastructure had to be stand-alone as the data centre is intended to be operational 24/7/365 to provide support to all MRC processes within the entire global MRC estate and facilities.

As data centre design and build specialists, our approach is to always innovate at every opportunity.

In the case of this data centre, the use of traditional cooling solutions was not going to be practical.

We focused on giving the client the most energy efficient system, but also a design that could cope with the increased environmental demands currently faced, and those challenges predicted in the future including the effects of climate change and increased ambient temperatures.

How did the solution address the challenges and were there any particularly innovative aspects that made it stand out?

Due to the challenges highlighted, our design team recommended a more innovative approach incorporating the use adiabatic coolers to cool the equipment housed within in the data centre, and UPS/LV room. This combined with the use of Rear Door Heat Exchangers, and in-row coolers to the UPS, completed the solution.

The project included the supply and installation of 8 x HPC racks (with the capability of this being increased to 16, pipework sized and installed for the expansion) at 25kW per rack, day-one load, a new LV panel, the entire busbar system and new N+N UPS system. There is 3 x 160kW Adiabatic Dry Coolers which were skilfully craned up onto the tenth-floor mezzanine level.

Our equipment selection and overall design was based on the use of in-direct free air cooling, utilising the benefits of adiabatic, hybrid dry air coolers and providing in-direct free (non-compressor based) cooling 100% of the year.

Through the application of higher temperature water and our innovative cooling design, the data centre can be cooled through a complete compressor free design for the entirety of the year with N+1 componentry to allow for backup cooling in the case of maintenance or unlikely failure.

With respect to the requirements of day one and two loading, the UPS systems installed provided N+1 operation at day one which, with the addition of a further module in the future, will provide and maintain an N+1 protection for the Day 2 load.

All racks have A+B power strips both being backed by individual N+N UPS systems being fed from the ‘essential’ side of the UPS output LV panel.

In addition, each rear door cooler unit provides a maximum of 25kW of sensible cooling at the design conditions, resulting in additional capacity being available for redundancy on both day 1 and day 2 installs.

The UPS units themselves are cooled via CRAC units in a flooded room approach.

As a minimum, our design allows for N+1 resilience and has its fundamentals based around Tier-II/III principles which is the appropriate technical level for this type of project.

What major challenges were faced during the project and how were they overcome?

Located on the hospital campus in West London, the data centre forms a critical part of a 12,070 m2 state-of-the-art building, constructed by Walter Lilly, who acted as main contractor for the overall building.

Designed to house Cat II laboratories and sophisticated imaging equipment, the facility also incorporates both confocal and cryogenic electron microscopy suites, 120-person seminar room, a sky deck café and central open atrium.

The first challenge which 2bm faced was to design a data centre which was split over the 7th floor, plant deck above and mezzanine level at the highest point of the building, which was limited in space and was the only area allocated by the architect for the outdoor equipment.

Due to the limited amount of external space, we had to carefully select bespoke outdoor equipment, which had a small footprint, so it could all be ‘shoe-horned’ into the very limited outdoor space, all whilst maintaining the equipment’s adiabatic functions efficiency and allowing the correct amounts of airflow to the units.

Detailed 3D CAD was required to ensure there was enough access space for servicing and maintenance personnel to access the equipment.
Other challenges we faced and overcame included: ensuring that the data centre was not only successfully delivered within a demanding construction programme (which was affected by the pandemic); meeting all the additional health and safety criteria that comes when working in a live construction site alongside multiple other trade contractors.

What tangible benefits has the organisation seen as a result of the project’s implementation?

The MRC now benefits from a highly efficient cooling system complete with outdoor units and RDHX technology to the IT cabinets. This ensures low carbon footprint and ultra-low OpEx utilising compressor and refrigerant-free cooling.

The result is a highly efficient data centre, fully IST passed during the height of the hottest days on record, with a PUE of <1.15.

The data centre, which was delivered on time and within budget, provides the client with an extremely fast pay back on their return of investment, due to a combination of the very low power usage and the rising cost of energy.

Comment from our client: “An absolute pleasure in working with 2bm – their experience and knowledge in this specialist field with their proactive approach in the design, co-ordination and installation process of the MEP services. You would have never known they were there.” – Jonathan Blake, M&E Services Manager, Walter Lilly.

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