Microsoft Datacenter: From windows to Xbox, Microsoft has got everything. But, the tech giant is not only known for the tech products but also the sustainable environment-friendly approaches. This time Microsoft moved one step closer to its goal of “ultimately remove Microsoft’s carbon footprint by 2030”. This was part of the company’s plan for the future.
On Monday, Microsoft announced that a row of its data centers was run by hydrogen fuel cells for 48 consecutive hours. It was the part of the company’s exploration of the clean technology that may be used to provide fuel to more aspects of its operations.
The tech giant has already reduced it’s a dependency on fossil fuels very near to zero. But still, there are some backup generators in Azure data centers which are diesel-powered. The tech giant specifically tried hydrogen fuel cells as a replacement because of its reducing costs. Diesel is an expensive choice even for backup in front of hydrogen fuel cells.
It was 2018 when the idea of the fuel cells originated. It was originated when the researchers at National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, CO powered rack of computers using a (PEM) Proton Exchange Membrane hydrogen fuel cell. Mark Monroe, principal infrastructure engineer in Microsoft’s team for Microsoft Datacenter advanced development said that his team watched a demonstration and was intrigued by the technology.
In September 2019, a 250-kilowatt fuel cell system was installed at an Azure datacentre. The fuel cell system was powerful enough to power a full row of data center servers. This system passed a 48-hour test in June. A test of the 3-megawatt fuel system which matches the size of currently used diesel-powered backup generators is under the team’s plan.
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Monroe showed the possibility of running an entire Azure data center equipped with fuel cells. A hydrogen storage tank and an electrolyzer that converts water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. These systems could provide load balancing services if integrated with an electric power grid. Later, datacenters could also be used by long haul hydrogen-powered vehicles for refueling. Microsoft could eventually serve as a model for use of hydrogen fuel cells by continuing to develop hydrogen fuel technology.