HPE & Daimler Joining Forces on Fuel Cells
Just a few weeks after Microsoft’s fuel cell powered data centers gained attention from articles in the Seattle Times and Bloomberg, HPE (Hewlett-Packard Enterprise) announced a partnership with Daimler’s fuel cell subsidiary NuCellSys to explore data center solutions.
HPE’s engagement with NuCellSys (and Utah-based Power Innovations) is an extension of its partnership with NREL to explore fuel cells inside data center environments for primary and auxiliary power.
Where other groups such as eBay have used Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFC) that use natural gas, HPE is looking a truly carbon-free system based on renewably-generated hydrogen.
CapEx and OpEx Advantages
HPE seems to share the same view as Microsoft that fuel cells can help reduce the capital and operational costs associated with data centers:
“On the capital expenditures (CapEx) side of the equation, a fuel cell technology solution is far cheaper than a traditional data center because 50 percent of the costs of building a data center are typically associated with the electric infrastructure buildout. With a fuel cell solution, you can remove the costs of adding generators, AC distribution, and wads of electrical cable. All these savings dramatically reduce the data center’s construction costs.”
To reduce operational costs HPE is exploring the recapture of waste heat from fuel cell operations to compliment other data center operational needs:
“… HPE and its partners are using fuel cells that have proton exchange membranes to harvest waste heat and use it to drive adsorption chillers. These chillers produce 9°C water that is fed back into the data center for cooling the data center’s racks.”
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