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 can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committees, oversight and lawyers." -- Christopher Jennings
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
Sales Battle - Apple iPad Mini vs Samsung Galaxy Tab
November 29, 2016, 12:36 AM
Phillips 55’ 4K Smart TV – Is This Really a Deal? We Think So.
November 25, 2016, 9:44 AM
PlayStation 4 Pro – 4K Console for 4K TVs
November 28, 2016, 1:00 AM
Lenovo Yoga 900 and Lenovo Yogo 900S – Powerful Performance in an Ultra-Thin Packages
November 27, 2016, 5:00 AM
Best Phones of 2016 - Priced under $650.00
November 27, 2016, 5:00 AM
Latest Blog Posts
Dec 4, 2016, 5:00 AM
Dec 3, 2016, 5:00 AM
Dec 2, 2016, 5:00 AM
Surface Ergonomic Keyboard
Dec 1, 2016, 3:01 AM
Chapeconense plane crash: Football rallies around Brazilian Team
Nov 30, 2016, 1:00 AM
How to Extends Your iPhone’s Battery Life
Nov 29, 2016, 12:49 AM
Nov 28, 2016, 1:12 AM
News: Fidel Castro
Nov 27, 2016, 5:00 AM
Nov 26, 2016, 5:00 AM
Changes in Social status affect the way genes turn on and off within immune cells.
Nov 25, 2016, 5:12 AM
Austrian far–right hopeful Hofer may back EU vote.
Nov 24, 2016, 4:00 AM
Final Fantasy XV Leaked Before Nov 29 Launch Date
Nov 23, 2016, 1:00 AM
Nov 22, 2016, 2:26 AM
Nov 21, 2016, 1:00 AM
HTC Makes Big Moves in China
Nov 20, 2016, 2:00 AM
Do you know who is the number one company in the word?
Nov 19, 2016, 5:30 AM
Foldable Cardboard ”EcoHelmet” wins James Dyson Award’s Top Prize
Nov 18, 2016, 2:39 AM
Scientists Discover Roundest Object Ever Spotted in Universe
Nov 17, 2016, 1:00 AM
Smallest Device Lets You Print Almost from Anywhere
Nov 16, 2016, 9:32 AM
Cancer Screening in the Community Is there a link between Cancer and Poverty?
Nov 15, 2016, 8:00 AM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information