ABB has invested £3.25m ($4.5m) into British hydrogen power generation technology company AFC Energy.

The two companies last year said that they would design an integrated high-power electric vehicle charging system powered by AFC fuel cells, and now also plan to partner on data centers.

ABB and AFC will test the fuel cells in data center deployments, as part of an effort to transition away from diesel gen-sets.

AFC also raised £1.5m from Dubai construction firm Dutco.

Hydrogen cells in data centers gathering interest

“Through the investment made into AFC Energy today, we are confident that ABB’s position in the [eMobility and data center] sectors will be further enhanced by the integration of our leading alkaline fuel cell technology," Adam Bond, AFC Energy CEO, said.

Brian Johnson, ABB data center segment head, added: “Embarking on this new collaboration with AFC Energy opens the possibility to integrate its impressive fuel cell technology with ABB’s strong data center solutions.

"Partnering with like-minded companies such as AFC Energy, further supports ABB’s dedication to delivering cutting-edge technologies to help data center customers meet their sustainability goals through a multi-fuel approach.”

Several companies are investigating using hydrogen in lieu of diesel backup, most notably Microsoft - which ran a data center on hydrogen for 48 hours. Keppel is also studying the potential of hydrogen for both energy and cooling.

And this year, Atos and HDF Energy said that they would build a hydrogen-powered data center by 2023 as they seek to launch a number of hydrogen products for the data center industry.

But diesel is expected to have a long life in the data center market yet, helping the industry weather disasters like Texas's Storm Uri.

Microsoft's Mark Monroe and NREL's Steve Hammond will discuss the state of hydrogen in the data center later this month at DCD>Grid Scale. Sign up for free today.