PC World talks about how oxygen deprivation could decrease the chance of fires in data centers:
As data centers become hotter and more dense with servers, a greater chance for fire exists. But there's equipment on the market that applies a well-known method of halting fire: starving it of oxygen.
Only a few vendors are offering oxygen-deprivation systems, but interest in the technology is growing. It involves pumping air that has such a low oxygen content that a fire can't start in the data center.
Air is composed of about 21 percent oxygen, 78 percent nitrogen and 1 percent of other gases. Fire needs the oxygen to burn, and lower percentages of oxygen makes it more difficult or impossible for fire to start.
Wood stops burning when the oxygen content falls to 17 percent and plastic cables between 16 to 17 percent, said Frank Eickhorn, product manager for fire detection at Wagner Alarm and Security Systems GmbH in Hanover, Germany.