A KyotoCooling heat wheel at the United Airlines data center in the Chicago suburbs (Photo: KyotoCooling)

A KyotoCooling heat wheel at the United Airlines data center in the Chicago suburbs (Photo: KyotoCooling)

Firm Files Data Center Heat Wheel Patent Infringement Lawsuit

Air Enterprises Acquisition, the exclusive US distributor of the heat wheel-based data center cooling system by KyotoCooling, has filed a lawsuit against competitor Nortek Air Solutions, accusing it of patent infringement.

The patent in question adapts heat wheels, a cooling technology used for many years in other industries, for data center cooling. Held by Netherlands-based KyotoCooling, it describes a data center cooling system that relies on a heat wheel in an indirect economization process.

Heat wheels are used to maximize the use of outside air for cooling. A heat wheel is a rotating heat exchanger with separate ducts for warm server-exhaust air and cool outside air. It addresses common problems with direct airside economization, such as air contamination and unwanted humidity, thus expanding the number of locations where economization is possible.

While KyotoCooling claims hundreds of data centers around the world are cooled using its system, it’s unclear how many heat wheel-based systems Nortek has deployed. Nortek doesn’t list heat wheels as a product on its website.

“Air Enterprises is the exclusive licensee of KyotoCooling’s technology in the United States, and as such, we feel it necessary to vigorously protect our rights when competitors offer infringing heat wheel solutions,” Joe Miketo, CEO of Air Enterprises, said in a statement.

Case studies on KyotoCooling’s website include data centers by HP in Canada, by United Airlines in the Chicago suburbs, and by BendBroadband in Bend, Oregon, among others.

One of the latest adopters of heat wheels for data centers is the Dallas-based data center provider Compass Datacenters, which uses a single standard design to build data centers for different customers around the US. Its second-generation design, announced last year, uses a heat wheel-based cooling system.

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About the Author

San Francisco-based business and technology journalist. Editor in chief at Data Center Knowledge, covering the global data center industry.

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