According to the temperature regulations and high energy consumption of air conditioning (AC) system in data centers (DCs), natural cold energy becomes the focus of energy saving in data center in winter and transition season. A new type of air–water heat exchanger (AWHE) for the indoor side of DCs was designed to use natural cold energy in order to reduce the power consumption of AC. The AWHE applied micro-heat pipe arrays (MHPAs) with serrated fins on its surface to enhance heat transfer. The performance of MHPA-AWHE for different inlet water temperatures, water and air flow rates was investigated, respectively. The results showed that the maximum efficiency of the heat exchanger was 81.4% by using the effectiveness number of transfer units (ε-NTU) method. When the max air flow rate was 3000 m3/h and the water inlet temperature was 5 °C, the maximum heat transfer rate was 9.29 kW. The maximum pressure drop of the air side and water side were 339.8 Pa and 8.86 kPa, respectively. The comprehensive evaluation index j/f1/2 of the MHPA-AWHE increased by 10.8% compared to the plate–fin heat exchanger with louvered fins. The energy saving characteristics of an example DCs in Beijing was analyzed, and when the air flow rate was 2500 m3/h and the number of MHPA-AWHE modules was five, the minimum payback period of the MHPA-AWHE system was 2.3 years, which was the shortest and the most economical recorded. The maximum comprehensive energy efficiency ratio (EER) of the system after the transformation was 21.8, the electric power reduced by 28.3% compared to the system before the transformation, and the control strategy was carried out. The comprehensive performance provides a reference for MHPA-AWHE application in data centers.
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