Fresh Air Cools Facebook Data Center; Apple Doubles Fuel Cell Installation

Facebook’s new data center in Forest City, NC uses outside air to keep its servers cool, and says this direct expansion coil system remained off throughout most of the summer — one of the hottest on record — Wired reports.

This design mirrors Facebook’s Prineville, Ore., data center the company opened in 2010 that uses 100 percent outside air economization coupled with a direct evaporation cooling and humidification misting system. This free cooling cuts power use and costs needed to operate the facilities.

An October report by 451 Research says the Prineville facility’s energy consumption per unit of computing power was 38 percent lower than in Facebook’s leased facilities.

The fresh-air cooling system allowed Facebook’s Forest City facility to maintain extreme efficiency during the summer, when temperatures reached 102 degrees, recording a Power Usage Effectiveness of 1.07, according to Data Center Knowledge.

Meanwhile, Apple has plans to double the size of its fuel cell installation at its new North Carolina data center, MIT Technology Review reports. The company filed papers with the state’s utilities commission last month that show it plans to expand capacity from 5 MW of fuel cells, which are now running, to a maximum of 10 MW, biogas-powered fuel cells, and a 20 MW solar system.

Bloom Energy will supply Apple with the fuel cells.

Other Bloom Energy fuel cell clients include Google, Adobe, FedEx, Coca-Cola and Walmart. And in October, Bloom Energy announced AT&T will more than double its fuel cell power, becoming Bloom’s largest non-utility customer.

Last month, Microsoft said its new data center research project in Cheyenne, Wyo., will be powered by a 200 kW fuel cell power plant from FuelCell Energy.


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