Demo Combines Fuel Cells with DC Distribution to Power Servers

The convergence of multiple lines of Green ICT inquiry is a sign of Green ICT progress. We have covered the growing use of fuel cells to power ICT facilities and the advancement of DC distribution inside the data center. A recent demonstration brings these two concepts together to improve energy efficiency and reliability. A February 2014 post by Microsoft's Global Foundation Services explains.

We successfully demonstrated a rack of servers powered directly off the direct current (DC) output of the fuel cell stack, essentially stripping out most of the infrastructure found in the traditional data center energy supply chain. The result is a very efficient system with a radically simplified supply chain and fewer points of potential failure...the electrical efficiency, from fuel cell stack to server, improved by a full third from 39.8% to 53.3%! This is improving an already very efficient system by eliminating parasitic loads and eliminating many points of failure and cost. What would this improvement look like on the national grid? Factoring all the losses from an average US power plant, all the losses in transportation, distribution, transformation, etc., and all the losses within the data center distribution powering servers directly from fuel cell stacks, we expect to effectively double the efficiency, from fuel to load, while cutting out many points of failure.

Image courtesy Microsoft