RACINE, Wis. — A 5-MW testing laboratory was recently commissioned at the Modine Rockbridge facility in Virginia, further expanding the services that Airedale by Modine can offer data center customers. Modine’s Rockbridge facility opened in 2022 to manufacture chillers to meet the growing demand from U.S. data center customers. The new lab can test a complete range of air conditioning equipment, accommodating air-cooled chillers up to 2.1 MW and water-cooled chillers up to 5 MW. Crucially for data center applications, the ambient temperature inside the chamber can be reduced to prove chiller-free cooling performance. Free cooling is the process of using external ambient temperature to reject heat rather than using the refrigeration process. If used within an optimized system, free cooling can help a data center significantly reduce its energy consumption and carbon footprint. The lab also can facilitate quality witness tests for customers to validate chiller performance in person.
In addition, the first U.S.-based service team has been launched to provide ongoing support to data center customers in the field. The team offers coverage for spare parts, planned maintenance, and emergency response, providing reassurance to customers when every second counts. Demonstrating further commitment to developing the local workforce, the Rockbridge facility is working with colleges in Northern Virginia to recruit and train service engineers, either as new graduates who will receive fast-tracked training or through apprenticeships. Apprentices will have a mix of college classes and on-site training, after which they will graduate with an associate’s degree in engineering.
“Our ongoing investment in our people in the U.S. and the launch of the service team and apprenticeship program — along with the opening of our 5-MW chiller test center — allow us to better serve our U.S. customers and cement our continuing commitment to the U.S. data center industry,” said Rob Bedard, general manager of Modine’s North America Data Center business.
These investments coincide with deliveries of the first Airedale chillers and fan walls to key customer Corscale — 28 OptiChill Free Cool chillers and 64 fan walls have so far been transported from Modine’s Rockbridge and Grenada, Mississippi, facilities to Corscale’s 130-acre Gainesville Crossing Data Campus in Northern Virginia, with further deliveries planned to complete the order announced last year. Once complete, the chillers will provide cooling to eight 9-MW data halls in what is eventually planned to be a 300-MW development. Corscale selected the chillers due to their free cooling performance.
“We selected Airedale by Modine because we wanted something that mirrors our dedication to deliver sustainability at scale,” said Nic Bustamante, chief technology officer at Corscale. “We wanted to work with an established brand that our customers can trust. Airedale by Modine products are renowned for their innovative approach and commitment to efficiency, which, in turn, reduces waste, and we were impressed by the work they have done across the world with other data centers.”
“We are delighted to celebrate more milestones at our Rockbridge facility by seeing the first chillers leave the plant and start their life in service at Corscale’s new data center,” Bedard said. “The whole team turned out to see the trucks leave, and that is testament to how proud we are of what we have achieved together here.”