Hydrogen power and cooling creates off-grid data centre

Hydrogen power and cooling creates off-grid data centre

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

Data centre developer ECL has launched the world’s first modular, sustainable, off-grid system that uses green hydrogen as its primary power source.

ECL will deliver data centres in 1MW blocks that have 99.9999 percent uptime.

The company also announced $7m in seed financing co-led by Molex Ventures and Hyperwise Ventures. Lily Yeung, Vice President at Molex Ventures and Nathan Shuchami, Managing Partner at Hyperwise Ventures join ECL Founder and CEO Yuval Bachar as members of the ECL board of directors.

The funds will be used by ECL to expand its market presence and in the construction of its first data centre at the company’s Mountain View headquarters in California with completion scheduled for Q2 2023.

While other data centre providers have deployed hydrogen fuel cells as backup power supplies, and with some conducting trials of systems forecast for production delivery in three-to-five years, ECL has combined fuel cells using green hydrogen derived from renewable energy with battery energy storage and a highly reliable power architecture.

The cooling system enables much higher density-per-rack than traditional data centre providers as the water created as a by-product of hydrogen-based power generation is used to cool ECL’s server racks, eliminating the need for external water sources. This is combined with a proprietary rear door heat exchange technology that results in lower Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) ratios than any other colocation data centre provider.

ECL says it can achieve a PUE of 1.05 across all of its data centres, with up to 50 kilowatts per rack, compared to a PUE of 1.2 for other leading designs. The lower PUE ratios and higher rack densities significantly lowers the cost of real estate, space and power consumption.

The data centres also use a full data centre management system called ECL Lightning to monitor and control every aspect, from power generation to power delivery and rack cooling, in real time.

The systems are optimized for use by mid-sized data centre operators, typically large companies with a mix of cloud and on-premises IT environments. The off grid modules consume no local resources, including power or water, and operates with zero emissions at extremely low noise levels.

When no optical fibre is present at the selected site, an ECL partner provides a fibre backbone along with cloud interconnection via its network-as-a-service platform, while ECL provides last-mile access using the customer’s provider of choice. This flexibility in network provisioning, coupled with ECL’s green hydrogen-based primary power, means that data centre locations no longer need to be driven by network or power grid availability.

 “We are proud to be a part of this much-needed revolution in the data centre industry, and look forward to working closely with Yuval and his team as they bring this peerless innovation to market,” said Shuchami. “ECL has a long lead on the competition in the delivery of a data center powered primarily by green hydrogen and we can’t wait to stand with them as they raise the curtain in Q2 2023.”

“It’s exciting to see ECL investing to bring tremendously relevant and novel experience into this high growth space around customizable modular data centers that can support the growing demand for advanced and flexible computational needs and sustainable power use,” said Lily Yeung, VP of Molex Ventures.

The innovations we are announcing today set a new bar for flexibility and sustainability in the global data centre industry,” said Yuval Bachar, Founder and CEO of ECL. “Never before has hydrogen been harnessed for use as the primary power source for the data center and that, combined with the unmatched efficiency of our cooling system and our emissions-free operations, is unique in the world today. I would like to thank our investors at Molex and Hyperwise, whose support for our vision and recognition of our capabilities is enabling us to change the very nature and future of this industry.”

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