719-660-2912 (US)     +44 (0) 1376 519983 (UK) info@criticalfacilitiessolutions.com

zinc whisker remediation


 

What are zinc whiskers? And why are they dangerous?

 

Zinc whiskers are tiny, crystalline slivers of zinc, formed by the degradation (corrosion)  of galvanized metal surfaces in data centers from such objects as flooring panels, electrical components, raised-access structures, ceiling hangers and grid systems, server racking, and even nuts, bolts, and washers.

These slivers become dangerous when they break free from the surfaces they’re emerging from and go airborne, circulating throughout your facility and getting blown into equipment. Given that zinc is conductive, it’s no surprise that this can lead to intermittent or even permanent short circuits of equipment.

Zinc whiskers are small, which means they’re difficult to detect and will require professional remediation.

Some tell-tale signs that you may need zinc whisker remediation services include:

  • System migration issues
  • Data corruption or irregularities
  • Power outages

In a worst-case scenario, you could face catastrophic data loss.

It’s also important to note that in addition to being harmful to equipment, there have been concerns raised about the potential health hazards that zinc whiskers pose to humans. Check out our white paper to read more on that.

When dealing with a center full of hyper-delicate, expensive equipment, a precautionary analysis is the best move you can make.

 

Reasons Why Zinc Whiskers are on the Rise

 

  • Continuous miniaturization of electronic components. Technological advancements have led to more densely packed circuitry and tighter spacing between conductors, therefore smaller conductive particles can now cause shorts.
  • Reduction in circuit voltages and currents. Newer systems operate at lower levels and therefore energy from these components may not be sufficient to melt a zinc whisker, resulting in an increased risk for permanent shorts.
  • Age of existing structures. Many facilities now have flooring that’s ten years or older with whiskers of a length capable of bridging exposed conductor spacings.
  • Increased maintenance and upgrade activity in raised-floor facilities. Any activity involving moving flooring can dislodge whiskers, thereby making your environment vulnerable to them.

 

How We Handle Zinc Whisker Remediation 

 

Critical Facilities Solutions partners with our customers to identify, trace, test, confirm, and control Zinc Whiskers. We remediate or replace infrastructure, where possible, or manage the zinc whiskers as part of a bespoke cleaning package.

We investigate the source and cause of zinc whiskers in critical plant, power, and data center environments within UPS’s, active equipment, IT hardware and servers, sub-floor and ceiling voids, raised access structures and panels, containment solutions, and all throughout the facility.

 

Zinc Whisker Services Include: 

 

  • Sample Collection & Analysis
  • Laboratory Reporting
  • Remediation
  • Specialist Cleaning
  • Testing & Consultancy

 

Read or dowload our zinc whiskers white paper