Data Centers Powered by Cow Manure? Smells Like a Good Idea, Says HP

Paul Lilly

We fully grasp that, as a human race, we're intelligent enough to devise a way for cow pies to be used to power a data center, but what we really want to know is how anyone in HP's ranks kept a straight face while discussing the "manure output of cows." Not only did HP talk about this internally, but the company went and drew up an entire game plan, and who knows, that smell seeping in through your car windows as you drive down the interstate might be coming for a new data center.

"The idea of using animal waste to generate energy has been around for centuries, with manure being used every day in remote villages to generate heat for cooking. The new idea that we are presenting in this research is to create a symbiotic relationship between farms and the IT ecosystem that can benefit the farm, the data center and the environment," said Tom Christian , principal research scientist, Sustainable IT Ecosystem Lab, HP.

According to HP, 10,000 dairy cows produce enough waste to power a 1 megawatt (MW) data center, which is the equivalent of a medium-sized data center, and still have power left over to support other needs on the farm. And get this - the heat generated by the data center can be used to increase the efficiency of the anaerobic digestion of animal waste. Yep, warm manure is just what the IT industry needs.

On very much a related note, did you know that the average dairy cow produces about 120 pounds of manure each day, and about 20 metric tons per year? That's enough to generate 3 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electrical energy.

More here (watch where you step).

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