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

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

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

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

Equinix will accomplice with the Heart for Power and Expertise Analysis (CERT) to launch a analysis challenge to match 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 power, whereas versatile linear turbines enable operators to simply swap between completely different clear gasoline choices together with hydrogen, biogas and varied renewable liquid fuels.

Equinix stated these applied sciences “could 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).

Give attention to tropical knowledge facilities

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

“Information facilities function a cost channel for the digital economic system, and the greening of their operations can drive the rise of sustainable enterprise all through the broader financial panorama,” stated Yi Mai Leung, Common 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 step with environmental commitments, benefiting the info heart business, 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 heart designs.

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

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 heart manufacturing.

That started to vary in July 2020, when Microsoft introduced plans to finish its reliance on diesel gasoline by 2030, a call with main implications for knowledge facilities all over the world. Diesel turbines play a central position in guaranteeing that mission-critical knowledge heart functions by no means fail, as a part of a redundant electrical infrastructure that additionally contains UPS techniques and batteries.

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After a number of years of testing, Microsoft lately teamed up with Plug Energy to deploy a 3 megawatt hydrogen energy system, massive sufficient to switch a traditional diesel generator. This challenge 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 business as a result of, like diesel engines, they’re fast to begin and cease, they usually can observe a load up and down.

The Singapore challenge is a part of Equinix’s future technique to inexperienced the digital economic system. Inexperienced hydrogen has been recognized as a viable supply of sustainable power, however the era 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 accessible.

Constructing on inexperienced initiatives

Equinix is ​​already a part of the Clear Hydrogen Partnership, a European collaboration of seven corporations – Equinix, InfraPrime, RISE, Snam, SOLIDpower, TEC4FUELS and Vertiv – to develop low-impact gasoline cells that mix stable oxide gasoline cells and UPS techniques 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 power administration.

A brand new wrinkle in Singapore is the give attention to versatile gasoline linear turbines, which give the flexibility to modify between fuels resembling hydrogen, biogas and completely different renewable liquid fuels, enabling infrastructure set up that may be simply tailored to market circumstances and gasoline availability in several areas.

“We’re eager to work with business companions resembling Equinix, who’re recognized for his or her efforts in sustainability and supply us with entry to a world community of information facilities that may function a testbed for a extra correct evaluation of operational viability,” stated Affiliate Professor Lee Poh Singh, Director of the Heart for Power and Expertise Analysis. , NUS School of Design and Engineering. “By this partnership, we sit up for enjoying a management position in inexperienced knowledge heart improvements that may be utilized in Singapore and globally.”