Microsoft May Use Fuel Cells at Rack Level for Greener, Cheaper Data Centers
November 13, 2013 3:14 PM
comment(s) - last by
Microsoft is in the early stages of researching this concept
is looking to integrate fuel cells directly into racks in an effort to make data centers greener and less costly.
Microsoft white paper
shows that the software giant wants to put methane-based fuel cells to improve efficiency, cut total operating costs, and improve reliability by distributing risk.
Microsoft has found that placing fuel cells at the rack level would eliminate the need for power infrastructure like UPS units, generators and switch gear. Gas pipes for the distribution of fuel would replace these components.
According to Microsoft, this design cuts capital expenses by 16 to 20 percent, and also reduces operating costs by at least 3 percent.
Another advantage is that if a fuel cell fails, it would only affect one rack instead of the entire data center. Conversely, using fuel cells to replace the utility feed, for example, would improve efficiency but allow a failure to affect the
entire data center
Sean James, Senior Research Program Manager for Microsoft Global Foundation Services, further states that the use of fuel cells at the rack level would “collapse the entire energy supply chain, from the power plant to the server motherboard, into the confines of a single server cabinet."
“The main distinction between this data plant concept and previous architecture ideas is the notion of bringing the power plant inside the data center, instead of putting the data center in the power plant,” continued James. “A lot of energy is lost in today’s data center energy supply chain. We show how integrating a small generator with the IT hardware significantly cuts complexity by eliminating all the electrical distribution in the grid and data center.”
Microsoft is in the early stages of researching this concept, and said many issues need to be ironed out before it can be implemented, such as thermal cycling, safety training, cell conductivity, power management, fuel distribution systems. But it sees the use of fuel cells in racks as a promising future for greener and cheaper data centers.
Data Center Knowledge
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
11/13/2013 8:35:20 PM
Basically, the approach leverages these advantages of gas:
1. The gas grid is 100x more dependable than the electric grid.
2. Back-up gas storage is cheap to build (it's just a tank).
3. Transport of gas incurs minimal energy loss compared to electricity.
Point 1 and 2 are kind of moot, since datacenters can already deploy micro-turbine systems running off gas. Fuel cells are more efficient than gas turbine at converting chemical energy to electric, but since datacenters require climate control, waste heat from the former wouldn't actually go to waste--whereas you need extra fans to blow that produced by the latter away.
An interesting concept at first glance. The more I think about it though, the less practical it seems given the high cost of fuel cells.
"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes
Microsoft Chooses Iowa For New $500M Data Center
August 22, 2008, 10:00 AM
Report: AT&T Eyeing $40B DirecTV Purchase
May 1, 2014, 8:00 AM
WebOS Class Action Settlement Costs HP $57 Million
April 1, 2014, 10:22 AM
IBM Workers Strike Over Terms of Deal That Will Have Them Working for Lenovo
March 6, 2014, 9:29 AM
Google Picking Up Artificial Intelligence Company "DeepMind" for $400 Million
January 27, 2014, 9:25 AM
Quick Note: Qualcomm Grabs up Palm, IPAQ, and Bitfone Patent Portfolio from HP
January 24, 2014, 9:18 AM
Verizon Buys Intel Media OnCue Cloud TV assets
January 21, 2014, 10:26 AM
Most Popular Articles
Ford Details ’15 F-150’s 325hp, 2.7L EcoBoost V6; Demonstrates 732-lb Weight Loss
July 22, 2014, 6:55 PM
Comcast Memo: Harassing Customers During Retention Calls Actually IS Our Policy
July 22, 2014, 5:19 PM
Kindle Fire Phone Review Roundup -- A Solid "Meh"
July 23, 2014, 2:09 PM
Windows 9 Will Merge Windows, Windows Phone, Windows RT in 2015
July 23, 2014, 3:33 PM
Russia Looks to Counter U.S. Sanctions With Bill Targeting American Tech Firms
July 22, 2014, 3:49 PM
Latest Blog Posts
Space Terrorism is a Looming Threat For the United States
Apr 23, 2014, 7:47 PM
Facebook Aims to Provide Internet to "Every Person in the World" with Drones, Satellites
Apr 1, 2014, 10:20 AM
Retail Mobile Sites Experience Outages in Light of Simplexity's Bankruptcy
Mar 14, 2014, 8:48 AM
Tesla vs. BMW: Who Has the Safer EV?
Feb 1, 2014, 2:56 PM
Justice Leaks Details of Next HTC One Two Flagship Phone
Dec 5, 2013, 4:04 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information