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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Equation-based object-oriented modeling and simulation for data center cooling: A case study

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Data center cooling accounts for about 1% of electricity usage in the United States. Computer models are pivotal in designing and operating energy-efficient cooling systems. Compared to conventional building performance simulation programs, the equation-based object-oriented modeling language Modelica is an emerging approach that can enable fast prototyping and dynamic simulation of cooling systems. In this case study, we first modeled the cooling and control systems of an actual data center located in Massachusetts using the open-source Modelica Buildings library, and then calibrated a baseline model based on measurement data. The simulation of the baseline model identified several operation-related issues in the cooling and control systems, such as degraded cooling coils, improper dead band in control settings, and simultaneous cooling and heating in air handlers. Afterwards, we used a sequential search technique as well as an optimization scheme to investigate the energy saving potentials for different energy efficiency measures aiming to address the abovementioned issues. Simulation results show potential energy savings up to 24% by resolving identified control-related issues and optimizing the supply air temperature.

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