Category sponsor Starline presented DCD’s Energy Smart Award to Microsoft (in partnership with Power Innovations) at the DCD>Awards 2020 on December 3 2020. The coveted Energy Smart Award recognizes the world’s most energy-aware and innovative approaches to building sustainable digital infrastructure.

This innovative project led by Microsoft tested generators composed of hydrogen-powered fuel cells rather than traditional diesel equivalents. The resulting system responded to sudden load shifts, ran very quiet, and emitted only warm water vapor as exhaust. A 48-hour duration test showed the fuel cells, originally designed for use in automobiles, could perform the technical requirements of the generator task, pointing towards a smarter energy future.

In comparison with diesel, hydrogen-powered fuel cells run very quietly and produce zero emissions, other than warm water vapor. This warm water vapor can be captured, condensed and recycled for cooling, or be returned to hydrogen via an electrolyzer. This type of hydrogen fuel can be quickly refilled, and capacity can also be easily expanded with simple additional storage. The data center industry can collaborate with production and transportation industries to drive down cost, and improve durability and efficiency for these types of fuels.

This project is a key example of the possibilities for hyperscale companies to investigate and drive the hydrogen backup power backup power industry. Driving down cost and increasing availability of green hydrogen, as well as fuel cell technology can also be major contributors to the world’s energy markets.