The CeBIT show produces yet another gem for Das Blog today. It harkens references to that Seinfeld episode regarding the Soup, um, Dictator (don't want to offend my German friends.) This time, it's not about Soup. It's about good ol' atmosphere.
A German company has produced a fire prevention system called OxyReduct that functions by reducing the amount of oxygen in a data center. When Oxygen content hits a certain level, things don't burn.
Sounds simple, eh. It's a prevention system because it inhibits combustion, not contain/suppress it like Halon/FM-200/Inergen.
Wagner Alarm and Security Systems claims that they can reduce the percentage of oxygen from the normal 21% to 15% where even cables won't ignite. You can read how via the link above.
Interestingly, they suggest that 13-17% oxygen corresponds to a human-tolerable working condition as approved by "unions." Well, they are Germans...I suppose this is accurate if your definition of "safe" or "tolerable" does not include the need to breathe without gasping.
I just returned from climbing Mt. Meru (~15,000 feet) and Mt. Kilimanjaro (~20,000 feet) and may I suggest that the effects of even mild altitude sickness is unpleasant at the best case and includes projectile vomiting (from multiple orifices) and migraines at the worst. Luckily, I didn't suffer from any of these symptoms, but many an Austrian tourist I witnessed was not particularly happy without their Diamox tablets.
There's not much in the way of "'acclimatization" that a data center employee can go through before a shift in the ol' NOC, so I'm very interested in hearing from anyone who's spent anytime in a low oxygen environment trying to administer critical infrastructure.
By the way, the supposed low-oxygen environment didn't work out too well in this blog entry I titled "Ode to a Suppressant."