Cooling in poor air quality environments - Impact of fan operation on particle deposition

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Colleges, School and Institutes


Environmental pollutants are a source for reliability issues across data center and telecommunications equipment. A primary driver of this is the transport and deposition of particle matter (PM2.5, PM10) on printed circuit boards, electronic components, and heat exchange surfaces. This process is enhanced by turbulent air flows generated from cooling fans. Particle pollutants can persist after contemporary filtering, highlighting the importance of elucidating particle transport mechanisms and utilizing this information to design robust equipment. This study investigates particle transport behavior arising from axial fans operating under varied aerodynamic conditions. Transient, multiphase numerical simulations were performed to model the flow of millions of microscale particles in air and determine their fate. Across a comprehensive range of fan operation conditions, from aerodynamic stall to free delivery, nondimensional deposition velocities spanned an order of magnitude. Deposition profiles vary from monotonic to nonmonotonic behavior, influenced by local flow impingement, blade tip vortices, and shear velocity. A simple flow control solution that mitigates the factors influencing deposition has been demonstrated for equipment already deployed. The findings and numerical methods can be applied for the optimization of fan-cooled equipment intended for indoor and outdoor environments where air quality is poor, or pollution levels are high.

Bibliographic note

Publisher Copyright: © 2011-2012 IEEE.


Original languageEnglish
Article number9440973
Pages (from-to)1206-1213
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Transactions on Components, Packaging and Manufacturing Technology
Issue number8
Early online date26 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


  • Air cooling, fans, fouling, particles, reliability