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Microsoft Testing Biogas Fuel Cell for Future Sustainable Data Centers

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Microsoft LogoWell-known software company, Microsoft, in its efforts toward sustainable data centers, has teamed up with Danbury Connecticut’s FuelCell Energy to test a combination of energy technologies.

“With the demand for renewable energy resources outstripping available power supplies today, Microsoft is researching new methods to help our operations become more efficient and environmentally sustainable,” said Gregg McKnight, Microsoft’s general manager for data center advanced development

The pilot program, a new data center in Cheyenne, Wyoming, will recover biogas from a nearby waste treatment facility and feed it into a fuel cell built by FuelCell Energy. The miniature power plant’s output is only rated at 200 kW but with other power-saving technologies, this will be enough to run the data center, completely independent of the national grid.

The new plant should be operational by spring 2013, the main power supply going to Microsoft’s new sustainable data center, and the excess fed back into the Dry Creek Water Reclamation Facility to offset operating costs. Converting biogas directly into electricity, without the use of combustion, eliminates carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Additionally, the technology is scalable, and could make waste treatment facilities, and others, self-sustaining. Depending on how the pilot works out, such technology could be used to power facilities with clean and reliable energy, from an already abundant fuel source.

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