New York-based PwrCor, a technology company focusing on renewable energy solutions for the Waste-Heat-to-Power, Geothermal, and Solar Thermal markets, is working with data center cooling industry and academic leaders to demonstrate that the wasted ultra-low-grade heat generated from data center electronics can now be converted into electricity using PwrCor’s proprietary engine technology.
Courtesy of PwrCor
Data centers house servers and similar equipment that use enormous amounts of electricity.
In the process of powering the performance of the equipment, that electricity is subsequently transformed into large amounts of low-grade heat. In fact, more than 98 percent of electricity used to power the electronic equipment in data centers is shed as wasted low-grade heat energy. Furthermore, additional electricity is required to cool the data center electronics to keep the equipment operating safely and at optimal performance.
Data centers now consume over 3 percent of total global electricity production – and this consumption is expected to double every four years. Utilities are struggling to keep up with demand and data centers often find themselves without adequate power for expansion.
PwrCor believes its technology is uniquely positioned to transform data center waste heat into useful electricity, thereby reducing demand for grid-provided electricity while also reducing the electricity needed for data center cooling. The market is huge.
Dr. Aaron Wemhoff, Villanova site director for the NSF-sponsored Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC) in Energy-Smart Electronic Systems (ES2), an industry-university consortium that focuses on advancing the energy efficiency of data centers, agrees that the technology can have impact.
“The utilization of low-grade waste heat for applications beyond facility heating is one of the focus areas for our center, and we believe that advanced waste heat recovery is one key element of future generations of data centers,” Dr. Wemhoff said.
Data center power consumption in the U.S. alone is expected to increase to 140 billion kilowatt hours within a year’s time. The data center power market is growing at 6.9 percent CAGR and is expected to reach $10.8 billion by 2025. By converting a portion of the heat generated within data centers into electricity, the PwrCor technology can bend this growth curve, delivering substantial savings to data center operators.
As Jack Kolar, Vice President of Mission Critical Products for TAS, a major data center cooling company, noted, “There are enormous quantities of heat being generated in data centers and simply wasted. Converting that heat into useful electric power is the holy grail for achieving greater energy efficiency in data centers.”
The demand for equipment to cool data centers is also growing rapidly, simply by virtue of the growth in the number and size of data centers. Moreover, the market is also trending to the use of denser and faster chips to support High Performance Computing (HPC), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Edge Computing, Streaming Graphics, and the Internet of Things (IoT). In other words, data centers will be generating even more heat. The market for data center cooling equipment is expected to top $20.7 billion by 2025, with a CAGR of 13.5 percent. By extracting a portion of the heat being generated in the data centers, the PwrCor technology can also bend this growth curve, substantially reducing the need for both the cooling equipment and the power needed to operate it.
Tom Telegades, CEO of PwrCor, concluded, “PwrCor is now uniquely positioned to improve the energy efficiency of data centers, which represents a multi-billion dollar industry for the company. Through collaboration with the data center cooling industry and our academic colleagues we are substantially advancing our strategic initiative to work with data center developers and owners to realize energy savings that impact their bottom line.”