HP pitches cow dung at data centers

John C. Tanner
25 May 2010


Cloud-based services and virtualization have put a renewed emphasis on data center optimization, which includes dealing with power efficiencies. After all, more utilization means more electricity usage, so data center operators are looking for solutions that will help them save on their power bills – not only in terms of more power-efficient equipment, but also sustainable energy resources.


Like cow manure.


No, really.


HP Labs presented a paper last week at the ASME International Conference on Energy Sustainability in Arizona on how animal waste can be used to power data centers. According to IT Pro, the idea is that the heat generated from data center gear can be used to cause the manure to produce methane, which in turn can be converted to electrical power.


HP researchers say that each cow creates 120 pounds of manure a day, which can be transformed into three kilowatt-hours of energy. As such, a dairy farm of 10,000 cows would be enough to power a mid-sized data (which requires around a megawatt of power), and still have plenty of surplus energy for the farm to either use or sell.


And apart from the environmental benefits of saving electricity, the cow-dung data center would also lower greenhouse gas methane emissions.



John C. Tanner

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