I have been involved in a lot of Data Center projects over the years and during the design discussions someone almost invariably observes: “it’s not rocket science. We’re just building a Data Center.”
It turns out there is rocket science in some Data Centers after all.
A handful of server environments now incorporate hydrogen fuel cells, the same technology that helped U.S. spacecraft reach the moon as part of the Gemini and Apollo space missions in the 1960s and are still used in space shuttles today. Data Center industry publications have in recent years reported fuel cells helping power server environments belonging to the First National Bank of Omaha, Fujitsu and Verizon.
Hydrogen fuel cells combine hydrogen and oxygen to create electricity and produce heat and water as byproducts. They typically run on natural gas, which although not a renewable energy does emits less carbon, sulfur and nitrogen than other sources. Probably the best known fuel cell on the market is Bloom Energy’s “Bloom Box” that was profiled by 60 Minutes in 2010.
So, are we at Cisco using fuel cells in Data Centers? Watch below to see why or why not.
Would you believe you can have yourself a pretty successful business upgrading office buildings with more energy-efficient light bulbs and timers to switch off heating and cooling systems after hours?
I worked as a newspaper reporter for much of the 1990s. I wrote an article in 1993 about how the city of Santa Clarita in Los Angeles County had hired a firm to retrofit its field services office with new lighting, timers and other energy-efficient solutions. The improvements were expected to save about $70,000 per year.
What always intrigued me about the story was that the company that performed the upgrades not only allowed Santa Clarita to incrementally pay for the improvements out of the savings from lowered utility bills but also guaranteed those savings would more than offset the price tag of the improvements in 5 years. If the savings didn’t materialize, the company would pay the shortfall back to the city.
Everyone wins. The company performing the upgrades gets paid for doing the upgrade work, the city saves money on its utility bills for years to come and the environment is better off due to reduced energy consumption and associated carbon emissions.
Now, consider that modern Data Centers can have power densities 50 to 100 times those of conventional office buildings. How much greater green -- both financial and environmental kind - can be had by saving energy in those environments? With that in mind, here is an overview of several strategies being implemented in Data Centers to make them greener.