Data center facilities pro

Feb 25 2010   9:02PM GMT

Google using Bloom box to power data center

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

As it turns out, Google actually is using a Bloom Energy box to power an “experimental” data center at its main campus, according to a Reuters story.

Bloom has exploded (or I guess, bloomed) onto the data center industry in the past week, largely due to a segment on “60 Minutes” where Bloom Energy founder unveiled the company’s technology. Bloom produces a new fuel-cell technology that feeds off natural gas and can be used as an alternative to getting power off the electric grid. The machines (in the picture shown above), which Bloom calls “energy servers,” cost up to $800,000 and provide 100 kilowatts of electricity. Some major companies — Google, eBay, Bank of America, WalMart — already have them installed.

The 60 Minutes show said that Google is using a Bloom box to power one of its data centers. Then this week, Rich Miller at Data Center Knowledge reported a different story:

It turns out that’s not quite correct. “These fuel cells aren’t powering any off-site data centers,” said a Google spokesperson. “Instead, Bloom fuel cells are powering a portion of Google’s energy needs at our headquarters right here in Mountain View. This is another on-site renewable energy source that we’re exploring to help power our facilities. We have a 400kW installation on Google’s main campus. Over the first 18 months the project has had 98% availability and delivered 3.8 million kWh of electricity.”

Then today, however, Reuters reported that indeed, Google was using it for a data center:

Google founder Larry Page said he was a big supporter of the technology. The search giant was Bloom’s first customer in July 2008 and uses the fuel cell to power a building on its main campus in Mountain View, California, a facility that includes an experimental data center.

“I would love to see us having a whole data center running on this,” Page said.

Needless to say, Google might not be running a production data center on the Bloom box right now, but I’d be willing to bet that they will be sooner rather than later.

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