A few months ago, Microsoft announced that it was studying the use of fuel cells to power servers in some of its datacenters. Today, the company revealed that it showed off a demo of this method recently at the National Fuel Cell Research Center at the University of California, Irvine
In a post on its Datacenters website, Microsoft said:
We successfully demonstrated a rack of servers powered directly off the direct current (DC) output of the fuel cell stack, essentially stripping out most of the infrastructure found in the traditional data center energy supply chain. The result is a very efficient system with a radically simplified supply chain and fewer points of potential failure.
If Microsoft decides to expand this effort to more of its data centers, it could cut the cost of powering the building even when you consider construction costs. It could also lead to energy savings and better use of the power generated by the fuel cell stack. Microsoft stated that the recent demonstration showed that "the electrical efficiency, from fuel cell stack to server, improved by a full third from 39.8% to 53.3%."
Microsoft says using fuel cells for energy could be expanded in the future beyond just powering datacenters. It states, "Imagine a small box roughly the size of a beer cooler in the garage providing heat to your home and electricity to your home and back to the grid. Utilizing the waste heat would increase the fuel cells overall energy efficiency to over 80%."
Source: Microsoft | Image via Microsoft