Case Study: Nitrogen Inerting Strategy for Atlanta Data Center

Posted by Geert Van Moorsel, P.E. on Sep 30, 2020 8:30:00 AM

This case study exemplifies the risk and added expense of not implementing a nitrogen-based corrosion control strategy from day one in mission critical applications.

Project Background

A regional data center was originally built in 2009 using galvanized pipe and an air compressor for pressure maintenance gas. Numerous leaks developed on the system mains within the first four years of operation. ECS was contacted in 2013 to help control the leaks and mitigate future risk.

DPNI Strategy

A nitrogen generator was installed to limit future oxygen corrosion of the galvanized piping, but the history of leaks ensured that significant damage had already occurred within the systems.

A series of video scoping corrosion assessments were performed for two purposes:

  1. To identify what pipe needed replacement
  2. To continue to monitor the internal condition of the system piping.

Each subsequent video scoping trip identified additional original galvanized piping that should be replaced to eliminate leak risk, while confirming that previously replaced pipe was found to not be experiencing any additional corrosion under a nitrogen inerted environment.


The key takeaways of this project apply to any data center, existing or under construction:

  • With compressed air as a pressure maintenance gas, galvanized piping can develop leaks in as little as two years
  • While a nitrogen generator will greatly limit internal corrosion rates in an existing system, they will not repair previously damaged piping. Some pipe replacement may be necessary to completely mitigate the risk of future leaks.
  • Corrosion of replaced piping, under a nitrogen environment, was significantly limited.

At the end of the day, installing a nitrogen generator in a data center during initial installation is the optimal method of preventing future leaks and eliminating the potential need to replace pipe over a live data hall.

To see the complete project timeline and results, read the full case study below:

Read the full case study

Geert Van Moorsel, P.E.

Written by Geert Van Moorsel, P.E.

Analytical Services Manager