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Removing Zinc Artifacts in Data Centers

  • Karen Anthony 
Tangled wires, power cables in datacenter, cabling mess in serve
Tangled wires, power cables in datacenter, cabling mess in server room, closeup

Why do data centers need regular cleaning? Structural components of the data center, like stringers, rack struts, and floor tiles, are electroplated with several metals. Zinc is the most common metal helping in this purpose. Most of these services produce delicate filament of zinc metal that squeezes out minor issues into the surface and thus form zinc whiskers. Under distinct conditions, these whiskers can severely damage the functioning of IT equipment.

Understand the growth of zinc whiskers

To affect equipment, these whiskers may be of minimum length, and various whiskers may be airborne simultaneously. The distance between the target and whisker source must be short, while the packaging technology inside the circuit card must allow the whisker to a short circuit within the conductor. The most dangerous time for zinc whisker-induced problems is during the installation activity, especially near the front of cabinets and servers. With proper care, you may get it done without disruption.

When you suspect zinc whisker issues, you must take a few necessary steps to manage power supply issues and overall malfunctioning. With replaced units and proper data management, you may reduce the effect of zinc whiskers on the system.

  • Detection. You may use the comprehensive guide to identify potential zinc whisker issues and the growing material. It will help you with the proper management of data.
  • Sample analysis: Experts may send you sampling steps, or you may collect the samples from the suspected area. They use electron and optical microscope images with EDX-ray analysis to establish the presence of zinc whiskers. Moreover, when you take the help of professionals, you have a comprehensive report on every sample, which speaks about the ramifications and findings.
  • On-site inspection: Professionals inspect every object in the Information Center and note whether each can grow into zinc whiskers. If they find suspicious whiskers, they collect samples and use the electron microscope to measure the length while EDX-ray emission to verify whether the whisker composition is any other metal or zinc. With the help of this information, they understand the magnitude of the issue and thereby take the following steps. 

Professionals have the expertise to give you apt solutions to such issues. Regular cleaning will eliminate buildup and help you smoothly function in data centers.

Eliminate zinc whiskers

If the presence of zinc whiskers is confirmed, the experienced technicians remove these safely by using proven strategies. They also take steps to remove zinc whiskers from the cabinet. After cleaning the surface of the whiskers, you reduce the chances of its growth and multiplication. Experts then recommend revisiting after 3 to 6 months to check whether there is any regrowth or not.

Whether these whiskers grow below the floor tiles or zinc-plated surface, it’s fundamental to replace these with an alternative that is not zinc electroplated. Furthermore, since the prevalence of these whiskers in the Information Centre is well established, options are available to prevent and remove zinc whiskers from the area.

  • Understanding the Replacement Process 

The replacement procedure is not challenging but requires caution and care. The whiskers may continue breaking the data center through airflow. Before initiating, you must reduce, direct and contain the airflow to limit broken whiskers from affecting sensitive equipment. 

Once professionals create the safeguard, you must remove the elements that already have zinc electroplating. Then, you will separate every piece to minimize their connection with the airflow, preventing zinc whiskers from spreading. You may refer to Alterum Technologies data center news to comprehend more about such issues. When working with a specialist, they will help you with several services. They provide an on-site inspection to prevent these whiskers from breeding on different surfaces. 

Once you remove these elements from the data center, special vacuums help clean the air plenum and eliminate leftover particles in the cooling system. When you enter the clean area, you start installing new flooring. To prevent further occurrence of zinc whiskers, you must follow several recommendations provided by the specialist. The best means of protecting the data center from zinc whiskers is by limiting the growth of these elements. 

Remember that these grow on zinc-plated surfaces. Hence, when you install new flooring, you must be cautious about preventing zinc whiskers from spreading. Some high-quality products have hot dip galvanized coating. It provides a layer of protection from zinc. However, even these coatings may not work without proper monitoring and surveillance. 

Also, you may think of powder coating, which is an affordable option. Although it is less effective, various data centers have gained several advantages with the help of powder coating. It helps you eliminate zinc-electroplated metal; thus, the data center will not have issues with zinc whiskers.

 One significant point that you must remember is that regular cleaning and maintenance are necessary to ensure that the problem of zinc whiskers does not begin or thrive.

Clear out zinc whiskers from your data center for successful functioning!