Equinix is ​​exploring the use of hydrogen fuel cells in its data centers

This fan wall is a part of Equinix’s method to sustainable operations on the SG5 knowledge middle in Singapore. (Picture: Equinix)

The corporate mentioned at present that Equinix is ​​exploring using hydrogen as a inexperienced gasoline supply within the firm’s knowledge facilities, and has arrange a analysis undertaking in Singapore to develop a proof-of-concept.

As one of many largest knowledge middle operators, Equinix is ​​ready to play a number one position within the transition to greener vitality applied sciences to assist the expansion of the Web. A key part of this transformation is the event of sustainable electrical energy sources for mills that present emergency energy throughout outage.

Equinix will accomplice with the Heart for Power and Expertise Analysis (CERT) to launch a analysis undertaking to check the effectivity of proton alternate membrane (PEM) gasoline cells and versatile linear generator applied sciences. PEM gasoline cells are a number one competitor to hydrogen vitality, whereas versatile linear mills enable operators to simply change between totally different clear gasoline choices together with hydrogen, biogas and numerous renewable liquid fuels.

Equinix mentioned these applied sciences “might enable knowledge facilities to cut back carbon emissions whereas assembly rising demand for knowledge, connectivity and interconnection providers.” CERT is a part of the Faculty of Design and Engineering on the Nationwide College of Singapore (NUS).

Concentrate on tropical knowledge facilities

The Equinix and CERT analysis collaboration will embody a complete analysis of those applied sciences for tropical knowledge facilities, taking into consideration native weather conditions, website constraints, vitality demand, provide chain and gasoline storage capabilities in addition to native regulatory insurance policies.

“Knowledge facilities function a fee channel for the digital financial system, and the greening of their operations can drive the rise of sustainable enterprise all through the broader financial panorama,” mentioned Yi Mai Leung, Basic Supervisor South Asia, Equinix. “Working with like-minded companions such because the Heart for Power and Expertise Analysis at NUS permits us to share experience and expertise to foster the expansion of digital economies in keeping with environmental commitments, benefiting the information middle trade, international economies and the planet.”

As a part of the analysis initiative, Equinix expects to develop proof-of-concept initiatives inside its international community of information facilities for real-world testing and combine them into future knowledge middle designs.

“By driving innovation in Singapore, the Equinix and CERT partnership goals to speed up disruptive applied sciences that may scale back the carbon footprint of world knowledge facilities, significantly in tropical areas,” the companions said.

Hydrogen energy potential

Hydrogen has lengthy been envisioned as a possible gasoline to energy a clear revolution, however hydrogen gasoline cells have remained elusive as a manufacturing choice, and lack the economics and scale of information middle manufacturing.

That started to alter in July 2020, when Microsoft introduced plans to finish its reliance on diesel gasoline by 2030, a choice with main implications for knowledge facilities world wide. Diesel mills play a central position in making certain that mission-critical knowledge middle functions by no means fail, as a part of a redundant electrical infrastructure that additionally contains UPS programs and batteries.

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After a number of years of testing, Microsoft not too long ago teamed up with Plug Energy to deploy a 3 megawatt hydrogen energy system, massive sufficient to exchange a traditional diesel generator. This undertaking additionally used PEM gasoline cells, which mix hydrogen and oxygen in a chemical response that generates electrical energy, warmth and water – with no combustion, no particulate matter and no carbon emissions. PEM gasoline cells are generally used within the automotive trade as a result of, like diesel engines, they’re fast to start out and cease, and so they can comply with a load up and down.

The Singapore undertaking is a part of Equinix’s future technique to inexperienced the digital financial system. Inexperienced hydrogen has been recognized as a viable supply of sustainable vitality, however the technology of hydrogen on an industrial scale remains to be removed from being commercially viable for a number of years. Within the meantime, Equinix needs to be prepared for widespread deployment as quickly as gasoline is obtainable.

Constructing on inexperienced initiatives

Equinix is ​​already a part of the Clear Hydrogen Partnership, a European collaboration of seven firms – Equinix, InfraPrime, RISE, Snam, SOLIDpower, TEC4FUELS and Vertiv – to develop low-impact gasoline cells that mix stable oxide gasoline cells and UPS programs utilizing lithium-ion batteries.

The digital infrastructure firm has additionally arrange a co-innovation facility in Ashburn, Virginia, the place it operates liquid-cooled servers powered by gasoline cells, sodium-ion batteries, and sensible vitality administration.

A brand new wrinkle in Singapore is the deal with versatile gasoline linear mills, which offer the flexibility to modify between fuels resembling hydrogen, biogas and totally different renewable liquid fuels, enabling infrastructure set up that may be simply tailored to market situations and gasoline availability in several areas.

“We’re eager to work with trade companions resembling Equinix, which is thought for its efforts in sustainability and offers us with entry to a world community of information facilities that may function a testbed for a extra correct evaluation of operational viability,” mentioned Affiliate Professor Lee Poh Singh, Director of the Heart for Power and Expertise Analysis, NUS School of Design and Engineering. “By way of this partnership, we sit up for taking part in a management position in inexperienced knowledge middle improvements that may be utilized in Singapore and globally.”

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