Title:
FLOOR TILE AND AIR HANDLING SYSTEM USING TILE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A floor tile has a top surface, a lower surface substantially parallel to the top surface, and at least one base mount extending along the lower surface of the floor tile at at least one respective mounting angle. A panel can be selectively mounted in a base mount of the floor tile and configured such that a mounted panel projects from the lower surface at a projection angle. An air handling system employing a plurality of the tiles enables formation of baffles in a plenum below mounted tiles by arranging the mounted panel edges.



Inventors:
Bousseton, Sebastien (Saint-Jeannet, FR)
Lund, Arnaud (Cagnes-sur-mer, FR)
Application Number:
12/206098
Publication Date:
03/11/2010
Filing Date:
09/08/2008
Assignee:
INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORPORATION (Armonk, NY, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
454/185
International Classes:
E04F15/024; F24F7/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NGUYEN, CHI Q
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Cantor Colburn LLP - IBM Endicott (Hartford, CT, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A floor tile comprising: a top surface; a lower surface substantially parallel to the top surface; a base mount extending along the lower surface of the floor tile at a mounting angle; and a panel selectively mountable in the base mount and configured such that a mounted panel projects from the lower surface at a projection angle.

2. The floor tile of claim 1 wherein the panel comprises at least one panel section, each panel section having an upper end configured to be retained by the base mount and a lower end including a section mount substantially identical to the base mount.

3. The floor tile of claim 2 further comprising a resilient edge configured to be mounted in one of the base mount and a section mount of a panel section.

4. The floor tile of claim 3 wherein the panel comprises a panel section in the base mount and the resilient edge in the section mount of the panel section.

5. The floor tile of claim 2 wherein the panel comprises at least two panel sections, a first of the at least two panel sections being mounted in the base mount, subsequent panel sections of the at least two panel sections being mounted in the section mount of respective preceding panel sections.

6. The floor tile of claim 5 further comprising a resilient edge configured to be mounted in one of the base mount and a section mount of a panel section, and the resilient edge is mounted in the section mount of a lowermost of the at least two panel sections.

7. The floor tile of claim 1 wherein the mounting angle is selected so that adjacent tiles form at least one substantially continuous baffle with their panels.

8. The floor tile of claim 1 wherein the mounting angle is forty-five degrees.

9. The floor tile of claim 1 wherein the mounting angle is sixty degrees.

10. The floor tile of claim 1 wherein at least two base mounts are provided at respective mounting angles.

11. The floor tile of claim 1 wherein a first end of the panel is in a first corner of the floor tile.

12. The floor tile of claim 11 wherein a second end of the panel is in a second corner of the floor tile.

13. The floor tile of claim 12 wherein the second corner is diagonally opposite the first corner.

14. The floor tile of claim 12 wherein the second corner is adjacent the first corner.

15. An air handling system comprising: a frame configured to be assembled to be supported by a subfloor of a room and configured to support a raised floor; and a plurality of floor tiles mounted in the frame, each floor tile including: a top surface; a lower surface substantially parallel to the top surface; a base mount extending along the lower surface of the floor tile at a mounting angle; and a panel selectively mountable in the base mount and projecting from the lower surface at a projection angle; and the plurality of floor tiles and the panels being configured to selectively form at least one selectively configurable baffle below the raised floor.

16. The system of claim 15 wherein the plurality of tiles include a plurality of mounting angles.

17. The system of claim 15 wherein the mounting angle is forty-five degrees.

18. The system of claim 15 wherein the mounting angle is sixty degrees.

19. The system of claim 15 wherein the mounting angle is ninety degrees

20. The system of claim 15 wherein the projection angle is ninety degrees.

Description:

BACKGROUND

The present invention relates to cooling of machine rooms, such as those used to house computer machinery in data centers and the like, and, more specifically, to air handling in machine rooms with raised floors employing floor tiles.

A data center can occupy one or more rooms of a building or even entire buildings and usually includes various types of equipment. Most of the equipment in a data center is computer servers, typically mounted in rack cabinets placed in single rows forming corridors between them. This arrangement allows people access to the front and rear of each cabinet. Each piece of equipment covers floor tiles and can vary in size from those that occupy few tiles to larger units that occupy many tiles. The equipment generates significant amounts of heat as a result of operation and requires significant cooling and other climate control. For example, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommends a temperature range of 20-25° C. (68-75° F.) and humidity range of 40-60% as optimal for data center conditions.

To aid in the distribution of cooling air, data centers typically use raised flooring made up of removable square tiles, usually 60 cm (2 ft) square. The height of the space under the floor tiles depends on the nature of the use to which it will be applied, but is generally at least six inches. Many such spaces are between 80-100 cm (31.5-39.4 in), providing a plenum for air circulation as well as providing space for cabling and other conduits or equipment. The tiles are supported by a metal grid frame with supports, also called pedestals or legs, that can be height adjustable. The tiles are usually made of steel-clad particleboard or a steel panel with a cementitious internal core and can have a variety of flooring finishes to suit the application such as carpets, high-pressure laminates, marble, stone, and antistatic finishes, among others.

To allow cooling air to pass from the plenum to the equipment area, the raised floor can include regularly spaced diffuser tiles or ducts directed into specific equipment. Additionally, floor tiles with perforations, including floor tiles that can vary the size of the perforations depending on various conditions, can be employed to simplify installation. Once equipment is installed, flooring tiles are rarely removed, but the tiles can be removed using tools including suction cups or hooks.

Controlling air flow in the plenum can be achieved using baffles. However, because the baffles typically attach to the frame or are free standing, rearranging the baffles to redirect air in the plenum can be tedious and time consuming.

SUMMARY

According to one embodiment of the present invention, a floor tile has a top surface, a lower surface substantially parallel to the top surface, and at least one base mount extending along the lower surface of the floor tile at at least one respective mounting angle. A panel can be selectively mounted in a base mount of the floor tile and configured such that a mounted panel projects from the lower surface at a projection angle. An air handling system employing a plurality of the tiles enables formation of baffles in a plenum below mounted tiles by arranging the mounted panel edges.

Additional features and advantages are realized through the techniques of the present invention. Other embodiments and aspects of the invention are described in detail herein and are considered a part of the claimed invention. For a better understanding of the invention with the advantages and the features, refer to the description and to the drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

The subject matter which is regarded as the invention is particularly pointed out and distinctly claimed in the claims at the conclusion of the specification. The forgoing and other features, and advantages of the invention are apparent from the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 shows a machine room employing a raised floor system with which embodiments can be employed.

FIGS. 2-4 show some example situations in which air flow can be reconfigured with embodiments.

FIG. 5 shows a floor tile according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIGS. 6 and 7 show a floor tile according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 8 shows mounting arrangements for panel sections according to embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 9 shows floor tiles with various mounting angles according to embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 10 shows a floor tile according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 11 shows a floor tile according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 12 shows a floor tile according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 13 shows a floor tile with multiple mounts according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIGS. 14-16 show the situations of FIGS. 2-4 resolved using floor tiles according to embodiments of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

With reference now to FIG. 1, a machine room includes a climate control unit 20 and at least one device to be cooled 31, 32, such as a rack of computer equipment. A raised flooring system 40 includes a frame 41 resting on supports 42. Floor tiles 43 are supported by the frame 41 and form a plenum 44 between lower surfaces of the floor tiles 43 and the subfloor 45 upon which the supports 42 rest. In an example condition seen in FIG. 2, air flow from the climate control unit 20 is undesirably diverted to a work area 33 in which the floor tiles 43 have been removed, resulting in a low air flow to the equipment 31. Another example condition is seen in FIG. 3, in which two climate control units 20, 21 provide cooling air to equipment 31, 32 in normal operation (left), but if one of the units 20 fails (right), one piece of equipment receives less cooling air than required, which can result in overheating and damage. A third example condition is seen in FIG. 4 in which the same amount of cooling air is delivered from the climate control unit 20 to both pieces of equipment 31, 32, but if one of the pieces of equipment 31 runs hotter than the other 32, it will require more cooling air.

A floor tile 50 according to an embodiment of the invention is seen in FIG. 5 and allows for easy control of air flow in the plenum 44 of a raised floor system 40. A top surface 51 of the floor tile 50 will either be the surface upon which people will walk and/or equipment will rest, or will support a material, such as carpeting or other flooring material, upon which people will walk and/or equipment will rest. A bottom surface 52 of the floor tile 50 carries a base mount 53 that extends along the bottom surface 52 of the floor tile 50 at a mounting angle Φ. The base mount 53 can be formed integrally with the bottom of the tile 50 or can be attached with adhesive, screws, or other suitable attachment devices and/or methods.

The base mount 53 is configured to receive and retain a panel 54. The panel 54 is configured to project at a projection angle θ which in the example embodiments of the FIGS. is ninety degrees. Other projection angles θ can be employed as desired or required for a particular application of embodiments of the present invention. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 5, the panel 54 is a single piece with its upper end configured to be received and retained by the base mount 53 and with its lower end carrying a soft edge 55 that deforms when encountering cables, conduits, or unevenness of the subfloor 45.

In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 6 and 7, the panel includes two panel sections 56, 57 to allow adjustment of the height of the panel 53. The panel sections 56, 57 have substantially identical upper ends and substantially identical lower ends. The upper ends of the panel sections are configured, as is the panel of FIG. 5, to be received in the base mount 53. However, the lower ends of the panel sections carry section mounts 58, particularly seen in FIG. 8, of substantially identical configuration to the base mount 53 so that the upper end of one panel section 57 can be mounted in a section mount 58 borne by the lower end of a preceding panel section 56. Thus, while two panel sections are shown in FIGS. 6 and 7, more panel sections could be used to allow greater flexibility of adjustment of the height of the assembled panel. As with the base mount 53, the section mounts 58 can be formed as one piece with the panel sections 56, 57 or can be attached with adhesive, screws, or other attachment devices or methods.

In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 6 and 7, a resilient edge section 55 is mounted in the section mount 58 on the lower end of the lower most panel section 57, though the resilient edge section 55 could be omitted depending upon the desires of the user and/or the requirements of a particular application within the scope of the invention. When the edges of the panels 54 of multiple floor tiles 50 are aligned, they form substantially continuous baffles that can direct air flowing through the plenum.

In an embodiment, a plurality of tiles will include more than one mounting angle as shown, for example, in FIG. 9. In the example, tiles with mounting angles of forty-five degrees 50a, ninety degrees extending across the middle of a tile 50b, ninety degrees along an edge of a tile 50c, sixty degrees 50d, and sixty degrees with opposite orientation 50e are shown from the top. Use of multiple mounting angles such as those shown in FIG. 9 allows formation of baffles of various orientations to provide greater flexibility in air control in the plenum 44. More detailed views of the example tiles 50b-50e of FIG. 9 are shown in FIGS. 10-12.

As seen in FIG. 13, multiple mounts 53a-e are provided on a single floor tile 50 in an embodiment. Employing multiple mounts 53a-e in such a manner allows users to adjust the angle of a panel 54 and allows manufacture of one type of floor tile base while allowing multiple mounting angles to be employed. While five mounts have been shown in the FIG., more or fewer mounts could be employed within the scope of the invention. Additionally, while particular angles are shown in the FIG., other angles can be used as appropriate for particular applications within the scope of the invention.

In an embodiment, the upper ends of the panel, panel sections, and resilient edge section are inserted into and retained in their respective mounts by sliding an upper end into its mount from an end of the mount. A detent or locking mechanism can be included to keep the upper end from sliding back out. In another embodiment, the mounts can be formed so that their walls can deflect, allowing “popping” of the upper ends of the panel, panel sections, and/or resilient edge section into their mounts, friction from the resulting interference fits retaining the upper ends against sliding out of their mounts or popping back out. Such fits are known and can be achieved with various materials, including plastics and metals. Other interactions between the ends of the panel/panel sections/resilient edge section and the mounts can also be used within the scope of the invention. The particular shapes shown in the drawings are for illustrative purposes only and other shapes can be employed for the mounts and upper ends within the scope of the invention.

In addition to allowing baffles to be arranged for a particular layout of equipment, floor tiles 50 according to embodiments can be rearranged when a situation arises in which air flow needs to be changed. For example, the situation of FIG. 2 can be solved with embodiments as seen in FIG. 13 by placing a plurality of tiles 50c edge to edge around the work area 33. Placing the tiles 50c in such a fashion forms baffles 131-134 around the work area 33, blocking air flow to the work area 33 and forcing a larger volume of air to flow toward the piece of equipment 31. Similarly, as seen in FIG. 14, the situation of FIG. 3, in which one of two climate control units 20, 21 fails, can be solved by rearranging floor tiles 50a-e to form baffles 141-144 to divert equal amounts of air from the functioning climate control unit 21 to both pieces of equipment 31, 32. Once the failed unit 20 is repaired or replaced, the floor tiles 50 can easily rearranged to provide more desirable air flow through the plenum 44. And, as seen in FIG. 15, the situation of FIG. 4 can be resolved by arranging embodiments of the floor tiles 50a-e to form baffles 151-154 to divert more air to the hotter-running piece of equipment 31 than to the cooler-running piece of equipment 32.

The terminology used herein is for the purpose of describing particular embodiments only and is not intended to be limiting of the invention. As used herein, the singular forms “a”, “an” and “the” are intended to include the plural forms as well, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise. It will be further understood that the terms “comprises” and/or “comprising,” when used in this specification, specify the presence of stated features, integers, steps, operations, elements, and/or components, but do not preclude the presence or addition of one ore more other features, integers, steps, operations, element components, and/or groups thereof.

The corresponding structures, materials, acts, and equivalents of all elements in the claims below are intended to include any structure, material, or act for performing the function in combination with other claimed elements as specifically claimed. The description of the present invention has been presented for purposes of illustration and description, but is not intended to be exhaustive or limited to the invention in the form disclosed. Many modifications and variations will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention. The embodiment was chosen and described in order to best explain the principles of the invention and the practical application, and to enable others of ordinary skill in the art to understand the invention for various embodiments with various modifications as are suited to the particular use contemplated

While the preferred embodiment of the invention has been described, it will be understood that those skilled in the art, both now and in the future, may make various improvements and enhancements which fall within the scope of the claims which follow. These claims should be construed to maintain the proper protection for the invention first described.