Let's consider the average 100 watt light bulb, of which 5 watts generate the desired feature (light), and 95 percent generated as undesired waste (heat). In this case, it would be 5 percent efficient. If you delivered a new light bulb that generated 3 watts of light for only 30 watts of energy, then you would have an offering that was more energy efficient (10 percent instead of 5 percent) and use 70 percent less power (30 watts instead of 100 watts). This new "dim bulb" would not be as bright as the original, but has other desirable energy qualities.
Nearly all of the output of data center equipment results in heat.In The Raised Floor blog [It's Too Darn Hot!], Will Runyon explains how IBM researcher Bruno Michel in Zurich has developed new ways to cool chips with water shot through thousands of nozzles, much like capillaries in the human body. This is just one of many developments that are part of IBM's [Project Big Green]
But what if the desired feature is heat, and the undesired feature is light?In the case of Hasbro's toy[Easy-Bake Oven],a 100W incadescent light bulb is used to bake small cakes. This is generating 95W of desired heat, and onlywasting 5 percent as light (unused inside the oven). That makes this little toy 95 percent energy efficient, butconsumes as much energy as any other 100W light bulb lamp or fixture in your house. With manufacturing switchingfrom incadescent to compact flourescent bulbs, this toy oven may not be around much longer.
While we all joke that it is just a matter of time before our employers make us ride stationary bicycles attached to generators to power our monstrous data centers, 23-year old student Daniel Sheridan designeda see-saw for kids in Africa to play on that generates electricity for nearby schools. [Dan won the "mostinnovative product" at the Enterprise Festival].
Another approach is to improve efficiency by converting previously undesirable outcomes to desirable. Brian Bergstein has a piece in Forbes titled["Heat From Data Center to Warm a Pool"].Here's an excerpt:
"In a few cases, the heat produced by the computers is used to warm nearby offices. In what appears to be a first, the town pool in Uitikon, Switzerland, outside Zurich, will be the beneficiary of the waste heat from a data center recently built by IBM Corp. (nyse: IBM) for GIB-Services AG.
As in all data centers, air conditioners will blast the computers with chilly air - to keep the machines from exceeding their optimum temperature of around 70 degrees - and pump hot air out.
Usually, the hot air is vented outdoors and wasted. In the Uitikon center, it will flow through heat exchangers to warm water that will be pumped into the nearby pool. The town covered the cost of some of the connecting equipment but will get to use the heat for free."
I see a business opportunity here. Next to every data center lamenting about their power and cooling, build a state-of-the-art fitness center for the employees and nearby townspeople. Exercise on a stationary bicyclegenerating electricity, while your kids play on the see-saw generating electricity, and then afterwards thewhole family can take a dip in the heated swimming pool. And if the company subscribes to the notion of a Results-Oriented Work Environment [ROWE],it could encourage its employees to take "fitness" breaks throughout the day, rather than having everyone there in the early morning or late evening hours, leveling out the energy generated.
Laugh now, but this could actually work!
technorati tags: IBM, energy, efficiency, power, consumption, electricity, Daniel Sheridan,Will Runyon, Bruno Michel, Hasbro, Easy-Bake Oven, heat, stationary, bicycle, generator, Brian Bergstein, Forbes, Uitikon, Switzerland, Zurich, see-saw, swimming, pool, ROWE