Protecting the Data Centre

Zinc whiskers, if left untreated, can cause costly downtime and equipment malfunction.



Prevention & Protection

Zinc whiskers are caused by internal stresses incurred during the electroplating process in the construction of the galvanised tiles used in raised floors. Fine zinc filaments, normally only a few microns in width, but of several hundred microns to a few millimetres in length, develop from the plated surface. They are fragile and can easily be broken off the tile.
A major problem associated with zinc whiskers is unexplained power failures which can have a serious impact on the mission critical data centre. This problem will increase with further miniaturisation because even short whiskers can now be long enough to bridge many gaps between the pins of components in installations.
To test for zinc whiskers dust samples are taken from the room and the sub-floor. These are sent to an independent testing facility for analysis by a scanning electron microscope and by energy dispersive x-ray. These samples are used to advise the client on the scale of whisker presence and to draw up a specification to implement a remediation process. Further sampling will be conducted annually to enable the data centre manager to maintain a fully informed overview of the environment and to access further treatment as and when required.
Computacare Services offer a cleaning process to deal with the remediation of this problem. We would be happy to attend any site to conduct an audit. Further information (including technical specifications) is available on request.


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