Data Centre electrical systems could potentially be reworked as Cloud giant Microsoft experiment with Hydrogen Fuel Cells. With a company promise to not just be carbon-neutral by 2030, but carbon negative - the main focus of this experiment is to determine whether Hydrogen Fuel Cells could act as a solid replacement for Diesel backup generators for Data Centres.
Mark Monroe, the principal engineer at Microsoft’s Datacenter Advanced Development Group believes, hydrogen fuel-cells could render the UPS and diesel backup generators redundant. “Diesel generators are an absolute necessity for us to be able to have five-nines of availability at data centers, and a lot of data centers keep 24-to-48 hours of fuel on-site… But no-one in the industry really likes diesel generators because they are noisy, they pollute and they produce, not just carbon, but also particulates, including nitrous oxides. And they’re getting more and more difficult to permit at the levels that some hyperscale companies are moving,” said Monroe.
The concept of new types of backup generators started about 2 years ago when an automotive fuel-cell was developed with HPE and the Daimler car company. The latest experiment at Microsoft involved a series of hydrogen storage trucks feeding the fuel cells for 48 hours, non-stop. “The only output from the fuel cells is warm water vapor after the hydrogen and oxygen combine,” said Monroe.
However, there are still developments to be made and obstacles to be overcome in this area of technology including the need for hydrogen transport and storage to be liquified. It could be another decade or more before hydrogen fuel-cell technology is able to meet technological needs.
According to Business wire, The global data center power market by investment is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5% during the period 2021-2026. Innovations are only increasing in the Data centre market, and factors likely to contribute to this growth focus on:
- The Increased Procurement of Renewable Energy Sources
- Application of Innovative Data Center Technology
- Introduction of Innovative UPS Battery Technology
- Increase in Power Outages and how this can be managed
Renewable Energy and sustainable energy are key factors for many businesses and industries – having a clean energy focus could revolutionize Data Centres across the world. The potential use of Hydrogen Fuels in this area could provide a cleaner output, enabling the ease of large scale data centre construction and/or expansion approval.
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