News Press Release

Airedale Opens 5MW Testing Facility in US Chiller Plant

Following the November 2022 official opening of Airedale’s new data center production facility in Rockbridge, Virginia, the newly repurposed plant has been further enhanced with a recently commissioned state-of-the-art 5MW chiller testing laboratory.

A chiller in a test lab
An Airedale OptiChill free cooling chiller being put through its paces in the new test lab

Airedale already leads the industry with one of the biggest HVAC R&D centers in Europe, and has now expanded its global testing capabilities with this new US facility. The capability to perform in-house performance testing on data center chillers is integral to Airedale’s R&D and production processes and ensures accuracy of data when proving chiller performance for North American data center clients, for whom precision and reliability is critical.

The new facility features a test chamber, control room and a dedicated observation area to facilitate quality witness tests for clients wishing to validate chiller performance in-person, providing them with complete peace of mind prior to installation. As well delivering final performance statistics, the test data can be monitored and managed live throughout the test process using test data acquisition technology.

Designed to exceed stringent international standards, the lab is capable of testing a complete range of air conditioning equipment and can cater for air-cooled chillers up to 2.1MW and eventually water-cooled chillers up to 5MW. The current process water flow has a capability of up to 1,900 GPM, with future expansion capability up to 3,800 GPM. The chamber has physical capacity for chillers up to 60 feet in length and can test up to 125 degrees Fahrenheit.

Crucially for data center applications, the ambient temperature inside the chamber can also be reduced to prove chiller free cooling / economizer performance, an area in which Airedale have placed huge R&D emphasis in order to meet the growing demand for more sustainable solutions. Free cooling is the process of using external ambient temperature to reject heat, rather than using the refrigeration process. If used within an optimized system, free cooling can provide significant energy savings, thereby reducing impact on the environment. Typical Airedale installations in 24/7 data centers with a typical room temperature of 75°F, will spend over 95% of the year with free cooling active.

The big advantage that the Rockbridge facility has over other test centers, in terms of economizer testing, is that it is not reliant on heat reclaim to be able to conduct chiller tests. The Rockbridge lab can handle the total rejected heat from the chiller (without being reliant on heat reclaim), meaning it is possible to conduct representative free-cooling tests without having to resort to a “reverse free-cooling” methodology like other similar labs.

The opening of the testing facilities at Rockbridge cements Airedale’s continuing commitment to the US data center industry and their mission to supply solutions with quality, expertise and sustainability at their core.