Software giant Microsoft is to test out whether a fuel cell power plant running on biogas generated by a wastewater treatment facility can support a data centre.
The data centre research project in Cheyenne, Wyoming will use FuelCell Energy’s stationary fuel cell power to evaluate whether onsite biogas could be used to generate ultra-clean and carbon-neutral electricity to run sustainable data centres in the future.
FuelCell Energy’s sub-megawatt Direct FuelCell power plant will be installed at the Dry Creek Water Reclamation Facility in Cheyenne, Wyoming by spring 2013.
The plant will provide 200 kW of power for Microsoft’s Data Plant, a modular pre-assembled set-up to house servers that recreates a typical data centre.
Any excess power not needed by the data centre will be diverted to the water reclamation facility to offset electricity costs and the facility will be designed to operate even in the event of a grid outage.
While the fuel cell is not completely zero-emission, it virtually eliminates some pollutants like nitrogen (NOx) and sulphur (SOx) oxides and particulates and is highly efficient.
“With the demand for renewable energy resources outstripping available power supplies today, Microsoft is researching new methods to help our operations become more efficient and environmentally sustainable,” says the company’s general manager for advanced data centre development, Gregg McKnight.
He says that Microsoft is excited by the prospect of stationary fuel cells that can capture and recycle natural byproducts like biogas.
“This project will study methods to provide an economical and reliable power supply for data centers that is also scalable and economical for use by other industries,” he says.
For further information:
EU grants AFC Energy €6 million to install world’s large fuel cell (9-Nov)
Toyota starts up fuel cell at California HQ (19-Oct)
AT&T dials up ‘Bloom Boxes’ to power US facilities (4-Oct)
23 November 2012