Permanently secure operation of Data Centers

Combating corrosive contaminants and harmful particles

Critical Importance of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)

Data centres have unique requirements and strict regulations compared to typical commercial sites. Particulate and corrosive gaseous contaminants have become a serious problem for data centres and server rooms.

In some cases, corrosion of electronic components has resulted in catastrophic failures of equipment, due to environmental conditions such as low concentrations of corrosive gases.

These contaminants enter data centres in a variety of ways, including outdoor ventilation systems, adjacent interior areas, and with individuals entering and exiting the facility or critical areas.

Sulphur-bearing gases, such as sulphur dioxide (SO2) and hydrogen sulphide (H2S), are the most common gases causing corrosion of electronic equipment. Once introduced in a data centre or server room environment, these gaseous contaminants lead to deterioration of copper surfaces and silver solder used on computer circuit boards, leading to intermittent and hard failures. These forms of corrosion can cause failure by either impeding the flow of electricity or forming unintended circuit paths. Elimination of corrosive contaminants is therefore essential in maintaining data centre equipment reliability.

Failures due to particulate and contaminant dust are generally classified as:

  • Mechanical effects, including obstruction of cooling airflow, interference of moving or optical parts and deformation of surfaces
  • Chemical effects, including corrosion of electrical components, due to dust comprised of sulphur and chlorine bearing salts
  • Electrical effects, including impedance changes and electronic circuit conductor bridging


In data centres with air-side economisers, supplemental real-time monitoring, such as AAF’s SAAFShield® Technology, is recommended to enable quick reaction to outdoor events that may introduce corrosive gases into data centres. Real-time monitoring is also recommended in data centres with gas-phase filtration air cleaning systems, in order to track the efficiency of the filters. 

For data centres with or without air-side economisers that do not fall within the ISA-71.04 severity level G1 for copper and silver corrosion, remediation through gas-phase filtration is recommended. Blowers at air inlets, fitted with particulate and gas-phase filters, can be used to fill the data centre with clean air and pressurise it to prevent contaminated outdoor air from leaking into the data centre. The air in the data centre can be recirculated through gas-phase filters to remove contaminants that are generated within the data centre. 

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