Equinix tests fuel cells as an alternative for powering data centers • The Register

Equinix has partnered with the National University of Singapore to explore the potential of hydrogen as a green fuel source for data center infrastructure.

The global data center and colocation provider announced it has partnered with the Center for Energy Research & Technology to explore on-site power generation technologies for bit barns of the future (CERT) at the College of Design and Engineering, National University of Singapore (NUS).

According to Equinix, the research will compare the efficiency of proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells versus fuel-flexible linear generator technologies in powering data centers.

The project is the result of a memorandum of understanding between the two entities, under which CERT will conduct an analysis of the technologies to determine their viability for large-scale operations.

Equinix anticipates developing proof-of-concept projects for real-world testing within its global network of data centers to incorporate the most viable technology into future designs.

Fuel cells work in a similar way to batteries, producing electricity using hydrogen as the electrolyte, while fuel-flexible generators use a low-temperature reaction of air and fuel instead of combustion to produce power and can run on a range of fuels, including biogas and renewable liquid fuels, as well as hydrogen.

Equinix said the project will first assess the suitability of these technologies for tropical data centers, taking into account local climate conditions, site constraints, energy needs, supply chain, fuel storage capacities and regulatory policies.

According to Yee May Leong, Equinix’s South Asia managing director, greening data center operations could drive the rise of sustainable businesses across the economic landscape.

“Working with like-minded partners like the Center for Energy Research & Technology at NUS, with the combined experience and expertise, empowers us to drive the growth of digital economies in line with environmental commitments, benefiting the data center industry, the global economy and the planet.” They said.

Equinix isn’t the only company looking at hydrogen as an alternative fuel source for data centers. Last month, Microsoft announced that it had successfully tested a 3MW capacity hydrogen fuel cell system and planned to install a similar system at a research data center where its engineers can study how best to operate the technology.

Dutch data center operator earlier this year NorthC announced that it would deploy a hydrogen-based fuel cell module, but that would replace its backup power generators rather than a primary power source. ®

https://www.theregister.com/2022/09/22/equinix_fuel_cell_datacenter/ Equinix tests fuel cells as an alternative for powering data centers • The Register

Laura Coffey

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