Can fuel cells find a home in the data center?


A few weeks ago at a ribbon cutting in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Microsoft officially announced that biogas was flowing to fuel cells to power its experimental data center there. The data center is located by the Dry Creek water treatment plant and has direct access to biogas harvested from the facility to power the fuel cells that are in turn powering its data center. The whole system is completely renewable.

“We’re cutting the cord from the electrical grid. That doesn’t mean that we are never going to connect another data center to the electrical grid. The point is now we have another option,” says Microsoft’s Data Center Research Manager Sean James. “It’s also a very clean option.”

Fuel cells have been around for decades and in many ways have been a technology in search of an application and a market. We’ve seen them tested and deployed in transportation, and megawatt scale…

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