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HP turns manure into power data centers

31/05/2010


When it comes to more sustainable data centers, most companies Information Technology (IT) focus on reducing energy consumption through improved cooling methods on the server and the construction of smart structures. A few such as Google have also opted for renewable energy. HP has gone further in introducing a system that uses waste from dairy farms as a source of electricity for the farm and the data center. This technology already exists, but it did not apply in this area, which opens new opportunities to rural areas.

Data centers may be installed near the farms supplying the energy source. According to HP, "although the information technology and livestock industries can look completely different, they have additional features to exploit for mutual benefit." Specifically, fuels from agricultural waste to fuel a combined heat and power. The data center electricity consumption and waste heat from its servers feeds the combined system to meet the electrical needs of the farm.

This is possible because:

*The average dairy cow produces about 55 kg of manure per day, and approximately 20 metric tons per year – roughly equivalent to the weight of four adult elephants.
*The manure that one dairy cow produces in a day can generate 3.0 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electrical energy, which is enough to power television usage in three households per day.
*A medium-sized dairy farm with 10,000 cows produces about 200,000 metric tons of manure per year. Approximately 70 percent of the energy in the methane generated via anaerobic digestion could be used for data center power and cooling, thus reducing the impact on natural resources.
*Pollutants from unmanaged livestock waste degrade the environment and can lead to groundwater contamination and air pollution. Methane is 21 times more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide, which means that in addition to being an inefficient use of energy, disposal of manure through flaring can result in steep greenhouse gas emission taxes.
*In addition to benefiting the environment, using manure to generate power for data centers could provide financial benefit to farmers. HP researchers estimate that dairy farmers would break even in costs within the first two years of using a system like this and then earn roughly $2 million annually in revenue from selling waste-derived power to data center customers.

Cattle vs. environment

It is a fact that the reduction in milk production would be increased aid for the environment than using waste to power data centers. Large farms are neither green nor sustainable, but they exist and pose a much bigger environmental problem that energy consumption in the IT industry. In this context, the proposed HP is relevant.

Symbiosis between the dairy and IT becomes a closed circuit system. Energy efficiency and greatly improves both the low environmental footprint significantly. Creates an ecosystem that is economically beneficial to both parties and only harms the environment. Intensive Livestock production is another matter. On it, HP does not comment.


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