Who cares about corrosion caused by the atmosphere?
We get asked that question a lot when we talk about our new corrosion sensor that are just finishing private test. The answer is quite a lot of people.
The gasses in the atmosphere eat away at metals. This can be bad, especially for computers. Very bad. It’s such a big deal that ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc.) have written standards about how much metal can be corroded away from computers if you expect them to keep working for a long time.
You see, in large data centers, as one Internet scale company once told me, “Network is free, storage is cheap, and power is very expensive.” Power for the computers, and power for cooling, is the largest cost in some operations.
One way to reduce the cost of cooling is to let in cold outside air, or “free air cooling”. That’s a great idea, at least in some areas. The problem is that as you bring in more air you may bring in more corrosive gasses. Mix any one of those corrosive gasses with some humidity and you’ve got a problem; one that in the worst cases can shorten the life of the equipment to under a year.
How do you know? One way is to order a metal “coupon”, set it in your data center for 30 days, and then send it to a lab. In a few weeks you’ll know if you were in trouble last month.
Another way is to measure the corrosion rates in real time. You can manage the corrosion to keep it below your goal for the projected lifetime of the equipment and still use outside air.
The “real time” part can be important. One of our customers with a lot of data centers found that corrosion was being caused by car exhaust from a local motorway, but only at rush hour. They can free air cool most, but not all, of the day. They could have never figured this out with the coupon approach.
We've been testing our corrosion sensors with response times of 10 minutes with a large customer for over a year. Now that we have a stable and proven product, we’re starting to fab a batch that we plan to release to the general public.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like more information on a complete corrosion monitoring solution.
Here is a look into the lab where one of our engineers just completed make some of the raw corrosion sensor elements.