Tuesday, March 26th, 2019

Fuel cell-based cogeneration system covering data centers’ energy needs

Publication year: 2012
Source:Energy, Volume 41, Issue 1
Giuseppe Leo Guizzi, Michele Manno
The Information and Communication Technology industry has gone in the recent years through a dramatic expansion, driven by many new online (local and remote) applications and services. Such growth has obviously triggered an equally remarkable growth in energy consumption by data centers, which require huge amounts of power not only for IT devices, but also for power distribution units and for air-conditioning systems needed to cool the IT equipment. This paper is dedicated to the economic and energy performance assessment of a cogeneration system based on a natural gas membrane steam reformer producing a pure hydrogen flow for electric power generation in a polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell. Heat is recovered from both the reforming unit and the fuel cell in order to supply the needs of an office building located near the data center. In this case, the cooling energy needs of the data center are covered by means of a vapor-compression chiller equipped with a free-cooling unit. Since the fuel cell’s output is direct current rather than alternate current, the possibility of further improving data centers’ energy efficiency adopting DC-powered data center equipment is also discussed.

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