Microsoft is Full of "It" -- Feces-Derived Biogas That Is
November 20, 2012 5:36 PM
comment(s) - last by
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
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
11/21/2012 12:18:10 PM
nvm. your sentence structure just confused the hell out of me. It may have been a run-on, but I am no grammar cop. This made more sense to me though.
The installation, which also serves as a test of Microsoft's latest modular data centers, will consume 200 kW. The remaining third of the generating capacity will be used to power and heat the wastewater plant.
"If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." -- Scientology founder L. Ron. Hubbard
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
Quick Note: Drone Loses Fight to the Death With Kangaroo
December 23, 2014, 3:28 PM
Campbell's Monkeys Found to Use Different Dialects to Describe Local Threats
December 22, 2014, 3:52 PM
Scientist Confirm Men are More Likely to Die in "Idiotic" Ways
December 17, 2014, 1:07 PM
Shoppers Surprised to Find Cards Against Humanity's Bullsh*t is Real Feces
December 16, 2014, 11:14 PM
Air Force Worries Hot Fuel Could Harm F-35, "Proactively" Paints Trucks Shiny
December 11, 2014, 9:06 AM
McDonald's is Testing Tablet-Based Burger Customization at 30 Franchises
December 10, 2014, 11:30 AM
Most Popular Articles
Miyamoto: Nintendo is Prepping Successor to Troubled Wii U
December 22, 2014, 6:28 PM
Amazon's Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 Drops to $299 (30 Percent Off) for a Day
December 22, 2014, 10:57 AM
Android-Powered BLU Studio 7.0 Claims to be the "World's Largest Smartphone"
December 19, 2014, 2:40 PM
Airbus A350 XWB Passenger Jet Takes Off, First Unit Delivered to Qatar Airlines
December 22, 2014, 1:22 PM
Mississippi AG Drops Anti-Google Subpoena After Dirty MPAA Ties Are Revealed
December 22, 2014, 9:51 AM
Latest Blog Posts
Sceptre Airs 27", 120 Hz. 1080p Monitor/HDTV w/ 5 ms Response Time for $220
Dec 3, 2014, 10:32 PM
Costco Gives Employees Thanksgiving Off; Wal-Mart Leads "Black Thursday" Charge
Oct 29, 2014, 9:57 PM
"Bear Selfies" Fad Could Turn Deadly, Warn Nevada Wildlife Officials
Oct 28, 2014, 12:00 PM
The Surface Mini That Was Never Released Gets "Hands On" Treatment
Sep 26, 2014, 8:22 AM
ISIS Imposes Ban on Teaching Evolution in Iraq
Sep 17, 2014, 5:22 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information