Microsoft shows interest in fuel cells

November 18, 2013 0 By Stephen Vagus

Fuel cells could power Microsoft data centers

Fuel Cells - MicrosoftMicrosoft has been an advocate for renewable energy for some time. The company has investing in clean power projects around the world, but it is beginning to take a more domestic approach in its advocacy. The technology company is expected to make use of fuel cells to power its data centers in the near future. Currently, Microsoft’s data centers are powered by electricity that is produced off-site and the company is looking for a more efficient solution for the future.

Company sets sights on methane fuel cells

According to Sean James, a senior research program manager with Microsoft, the company is beginning to look into the use of methane fuel cells. These fuel cells use methane to generate electrical power rather than hydrogen and are somewhat popular in several industrial fields. Microsoft has chosen methane fuel cells because they are the company’s most convenient option. According to a study that Microsoft conducted n the matter, methane fuel cells will be able to nearly double the efficiency of its data centers.

Fuel cells may be an efficient option

The fuel cells would be located in close proximity to data centers, significantly reducing the distance that electrical power would have to travel. Microsoft expects that this will avoid some of the inefficiencies associated with the existing energy grid. The close proximity of the fuel cells will also address issues concerning back-up power. In the event of power grid failure, the fuel cells will be able to keep data centers running while problems with the energy grid are being resolves.

Technology companies showing more interest in fuel cells

Microsoft is not the first company to use fuel cells to power its data centers. Apple uses hydrogen fuel cells to power its primary data center in Maiden, North Carolina. Both Google and Facebook have been looking into using fuel cells to power their data centers as well. As these energy systems continue to grow in popularity, their use being certain fields of industry and transportation is likely to expand.

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