Microsoft is Full of "It" -- Feces-Derived Biogas That Is
November 20, 2012 5:36 PM
Software giant looks to power its data center with feces
Microsoft Corp. (
) has paired with FuelCell Energy, Inc. (
) to deploy a pretty unusual data center in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
I. From Feces to Fuel
The $5.5M USD data center, funded by Microsoft FuelCell Energy and the State of Wyoming, is attached to the Dry Creek Water Reclamation Facility and takes advantage of the Facility's most abundant resource -- wastewater.
Wastewater in scientific terms is a slew of water, human feces, and other things flushed down the toilet. When captured filtered, the "solids" slowly outgas carbon dioxide and methane thanks to their population of methane producing bacteria. When paired with a methane-fuel cell, electricity and heat can be produced from the methane gas.
Smelling a sweet idea, Microsoft plans to do exactly that with its 300 kW cell. The installation, which also serves as a test of Microsoft's latest modular data centers, will consume 200 kW, feeding the remaining third of the generating capacity to power and heat the wastewater plant.
A similar 300 kW stack from FuelCell Energy is deployed on the campus of Yale University.
[Image Source: Yale University]
Microsoft research program manager Sean James comments, "A person is consuming data and that person’s waste is going to power the data center. It’s been a mind shift. When we smell that methane at a water treatment plant, we realize we’re smelling energy."
II. What a Great Smell You Have Discovered
While some wastewater facilities already harvest and distribute their methane for generative purposes, many simply flare (burn off) the gas. Microsoft sees its modular "Data Plant" design as potentially a game changer for such "stranded" biogas locations.
Fuel cells have traditionally been too expensive to consider versus backup fossil fuel generators, such as diesel backup generators (which, coincidentally, Microsoft
has been accused of overusing
by locals near some of its data centers). But the reliable alternative power sources are finally dipping to prices where they may make economic sense in locations where methane gas is cheap.
Microsoft is excited about making a "circle of life" using data and human feces.
Comments Brian Janous, data center utility architect at Microsoft, “Our expectation that this is cost effective especially as we move out of the U.S. where natural gas is really cheap."
The waste CO2 from the fuel cell can be pumped into local oil wells to extract more oil.
Microsoft is not alone in looking into fuel cells. Google Inc. (
) showed off a
wastewater-coupled data center
in 2008. EBay, Inc. (
) and Apple, Inc. (
) are also investigating fuel cells as a low-emissions way of powering their data centers, according to the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Overseas South Korean researchers have looked to
make fuel from feces
, as well, and one Japanese research according to the
is even investigating
making a meat substitute from feces
(although the validity of the
report has been questioned due to the story's similarity to a stunt by Canada's "Yes Men").
MIT Tech Review
“We do believe we have a moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone.” -- Steve Jobs
Farm Town Upset About Microsoft Data Center's Pollution, Waste
September 24, 2012, 3:21 PM
South Korea Aims to Turn Human Waste to Fuel
August 31, 2012, 4:50 PM
Japanese Make "Delicious", Nourishing Steaks From Human Feces
June 17, 2011, 10:51 AM
Google's Data Centers Illustrate How Going Green Can Save Big Bucks
October 6, 2008, 10:31 AM
PIQ ROBOTTM reveals its new artificial intelligence software
November 29, 2016, 12:59 AM
One more time - Happy Thanksgiving to Everyone Around the World
November 24, 2016, 4:00 AM
Google’s Smart Contact Lens Project gets halted for 2016
November 20, 2016, 7:00 AM
Cell Research Study shows African Americans have greater immune response to infection
November 10, 2016, 1:00 AM
UTHealth Clinical Trial Shows Progress Using Stem Cells to Treat Traumatic Brain Injury
November 8, 2016, 1:00 AM
Uber Partners with Circulation to Pilot Program Connecting Transportation and Digital Health Care
November 6, 2016, 5:00 AM
Most Popular Articles
Surface Pro 5 Rumors - New Release Date and Price
April 22, 2017, 6:45 AM
Apple Watch NikeLab Limited Edition unveiled.
April 22, 2017, 6:20 AM
SAPPHIRE PULSE Radeon RX 580 8GD5 – Great Value for the Money
April 20, 2017, 7:47 AM
Meet the Smartphone with four cameras - Alcatel Flashphone
April 5, 2017, 11:20 AM
Dell Inspiron 17 7000 – A Premium Laptop featuring 7th Gen Intel Core i7 in a 2-in-1 Frame.
April 19, 2017, 7:45 AM
Latest Blog Posts
Galaxy Note 8 – Available Second Half 2017
Apr 28, 2017, 7:30 AM
Google Android App – Huge improvement on Nighttime Photography
Apr 27, 2017, 7:40 AM
Google Co-Founder, Sergey Brin has an Airship
Apr 26, 2017, 6:43 AM
Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus – Lots of Glass that Breaks Easily
Apr 25, 2017, 7:20 AM
Samsung Galaxy S8 – Warning for Pet Owners
Apr 24, 2017, 5:59 AM
Sound Bars and the Costs?
Apr 23, 2017, 6:30 AM
Link your Brain to Your Computer – In Four Years…Maybe
Apr 22, 2017, 7:03 AM
Google Home can now identify users by their voice.
Apr 21, 2017, 7:15 AM
Amazon Lex – Now Available for Developers.
Apr 20, 2017, 6:58 AM
You can now use Instagram offline on your Android Smartphone
Apr 19, 2017, 8:00 AM
Now you can livestream to YouTube from your mobile device.
Apr 18, 2017, 8:05 AM
Google Home – Is It a Spy Device?
Apr 17, 2017, 7:30 AM
Apple added to self –driving test permit list
Apr 15, 2017, 6:21 AM
Project Scorpio – Coming on June 11
Apr 14, 2017, 6:20 AM
Looks Like Samsung Has Been Forgiven.
Apr 13, 2017, 6:50 AM
United Airlines - Blasted on China’s Social Network and the Stock Market
Apr 12, 2017, 6:50 AM
Amazon's Third-Party Sellers Hacked
Apr 11, 2017, 6:25 AM
Microsoft Surface Pro5 Details Revealed
Apr 9, 2017, 6:41 AM
Own An Android Phone? Then you could be hacked over Wi-FI
Apr 7, 2017, 6:47 AM
Apple confirms iOS 10.3 bug and its effect on iCloud Services
Apr 6, 2017, 6:30 AM
Apple Rolls Out New Version of Apple Music
Apr 5, 2017, 10:35 AM
Apple in the News
Apr 4, 2017, 9:03 AM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2017 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information