Additional diesel is delivered by drop trailers and iso tanks; however, these vehicles need to be able to reach the delivery site. In the cases of extreme flooding, even when having a preferred contract, the issue of getting the fuel to the data center can be an issue. That’s a particular challenge in Lower Manhattan, where tunnel access is limited and some roadways remain flooded or are blocked by stranded vehicles.
Hidden Threat: Fuel Contamination
While the supply of fuel is the most critical consideration, another unforeseen problem is fuel contamination. Diesel reserves often sit for long periods of time, which is the opposite of the optimal scenario, in which diesel fuel is used within two to three weeks of leaving the refinery. Because of this, oil companies are not compelled to produce a diesel fuel meant for long-term storage.
Due to tighter regulation and economic concerns, fuel is becoming more unstable and contaminable, industry sources say. Should a disaster strike, there is a chance that diesel reserves are old, leading to premature shutdown of generators. For this reason, data center providers should test fuel samples on an annual basis, and refresh their reserves to prevent this. There are also treatments, such as adding biocides to control microbial growth, chemical additives, and filtering to remove water and sediment that builds up over time.
The NFPA 110 refers to diesel fuel “storage life” of 1.5 to 2 years. “Tanks should be sized so that the fuel is consumed within the storage life, or provision should be made to replace stale fuel with fresh fuel,” the standard recommends. The current refining process means that an even more conservative standard might be needed.
An additional precaution is testing the generators on a regular basis to see if they can handle the load at partial and/or full capacity. The generator itself needs to be brought to full load on a regular basis to prevent damage to it. While testing is integral, there have been issues in the past stemming from failed testing.
So data center providers need complex backup power systems including massive diesel generators, intelligent diesel fuel management and reserves on site, and priority service contracts. Even then, some problems can’t be avoided – especially if your generators are in the basement in a flood zone.
Pages: 1 2