Monday, February 23, 2009

Next-Gen Green Data Centers: Powered by Methane?

By Preston Gralla

Here's one more creative way to green a data center: Power it with methane gas produced from a landfill. Sound far-fetched? In fact it's not --- there's already a serious proposal on the boards.

According to TechTarget, the mayor of Chicopee, Massachusetts has proposed to Dow Jones that it build "a national data center here with the possibility of generating electricity from the methane at the landfill."

Dow Jones is the publisher of the Wall Street Journal, Barron's, and other publications, and is owned by Rupert Murdoch. The company already has an office in Chicopee, which is a city that has long fallen on difficult economic times. Hosting a green data center would be a big boost to the economically stressed city.

The idea isn't as far fetched as it might seem. According to Data Center Knowledge, the company T-Systems uses a fuel cell powered by biogas to run a server room for a facility in Munich, Germany.

TechTarget also notes that there are serious plans underway for other industrial facilities to use methane. It notes: Fujifilm announced in 2007 that it would use methane from a nearby landfill to help power its manufacturing plant in Greenwood, S.C. Last year Google said it would pay for the building of a greenhouse that would reuse methane. The greenhouse is near a data center it’s building in western North Carolina, and paying for it would allow Google to win carbon credits so it could claim environmental friendliness.

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