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Apple to Build 4.8MW Fuel Cell System Powered by Biogas at Its NC Data Center

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eBay also uses Bloom Energy's fuel cells

If you remember, we’ve been talking about Apple’s new and bold green statement recently. At that time we’ve been telling you about the plans to power their new North Carolina data center with solar panels and biogas. Now, the company that Steve Jobs saved from peril in 1997 is building world’s largest private owned fuel cell farm powered by biogas.

Apple wants to start building the Maiden, NC-based fuel cell farm as soon as possible and start using part of it by June, and to finish the entire 4.8 MW system by December.

Katie from GigaOM reports that the 24 biogas fuel cells will have a capacity of 200 kW each. The best guess about the source of the fuel cells is that they’ll get them from Bloom Energy, also established in Silicon Valley, because they’re the only one selling 200kW fuel cells in the industry.

Fuel cells feed with oxygen on one side and methane on the other. They use the hydrogen inside methane and transform it into electricity, just like a hydrogen fuel cell. The main difference is that methane fuel cells have a higher energy producing capacity, since the carbon already stores the hydrogen in atomic bonds much more efficiently than pressurized hydrogen tanks would.

With the new solar and fuel cell farm installed, Apple will make a small but firm step towards what seems to be their new commitment to respect the environment. Unlike other companies that have embraced protecting the environment a long time ago, Apple only started recently, mostly after Jobs planned his new “spaceship” headquarters to be powered by biogas.

It’s a good start – it may inspire others, too.

[via gigaom]

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