Green Innovations

Developing renewable and clean technology companies in New York

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

NYS is big winner of DoE grants to improve energy efficiency in the IT sector

New York State was a big winner of DoE funding awards just announced to improve energy efficiency in  the IT and telecom sectors. Only 14 projects nationally will share in the $47 million awards, funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and five of those are New York State projects.  Among one of the largest awards was nearly $10 million to support a new Yahoo! data center being developed in Lockport, NY.

Green IT is becoming increasingly important as the smart grid is deployed, which will require a supportive physical infrastructure that includes data centers, networks, routers and other smart green information and telecommunication technologies.  While still quite small compared to other sectors such as transportation and buildings, it is estimated that information technology and telecommunications facilities account for approximately 120 billion kilowatt hours of electricity annually.  Data center and communications network usage also typically occurs highest during peak electric consumption hours, placing additional stress on the grid.

DoE funding for these projects will focus primarily on equipment and software, power supply chain and cooling.  It will be matched by more than $70 million in industry funding.

The number of New York State projects selected for these DoE awards speaks to the state's R&D strength in the IT sector.  Among the New York State projects selected for these highly competitive awards:

  • Reducing Data Center Cooling Energy through Software-Based Management Tools. ~ IBM T.J. Watson Research Center (Yorktown, NY), Project Location: Research Triangle Park, NC ~ The project will develop and field test data center and telecommunication facility management tools to reduce power consumption from cooling components. Using real-time temperature, humidity, hot-spot management, air-leakage measurement, and corrosion monitoring, this tool will optimize air conditioning systems and use of outside air in computing facilities. This technology has the potential to save 10% of average data center and telecommunication center energy requirements. Awarded: $1,666,550 
  • Power Minimization for Networked Data Centers. ~ California Institute of Technology, Project Location: Ithaca, NY ~ Many large companies use massive arrays of servers across multiple data centers without a global method for managing energy consumption based on customer demand. This study will create algorithms designed to understand the demand for services from server technology and to balance services across servers and data centers according to preferred energy use goals. The so-called “volume servers” targeted in this project are the largest consumers of data center energy, so efficiency gains can yield substantial energy savings.  Awarded: $300,000
  • Reduction in Server Power Consumption through Improved CPU Energy Conversion. ~ Trustees of Columbia University, Project Locations: Ithaca, NY – Yorktown Heights, NY ~ This project will develop “on-chip” technology to make power conversions more efficient within servers. By increasing the amount of electricity that is used versus lost in operating the Central Processing Unit (CPU), server energy efficiency can be increased by at least 10%. Awarded: $2,800,000
  • Research Triangle Park, NC – Data Center Cooling using a Liquid Metal Thermal Interface. ~ IBM T.J. Watson Research Center (IBM-03), Project Locations: Poughkeepsie, NY ~ This project combines advanced metals and liquid cooled heat sinks to carry heat out of the data center to a Dual Enclosure Liquid Cooling (DELC) system. The DELC system will exchange heat from the data center with ambient air. Expelled heat will also be made available for room or water heating elsewhere. The project goal is to reduce cooling energy to 5% of total data center energy (conventional systems often use 25%).  Awarded: $2,347,801
  • Next Generation Passive Cooling Design for Data Centers. ~ Yahoo!, Inc., Project Locations: Lockport, NY ~ This project will design and engineer a key data center for a major internet company. The integrated building design, including the building’s shape and orientation and the alignment of the servers within the building, allows the data center to use outside ambient air for cooling 99 percent of the year. The relatively low initial cost to build, compatibility with current server and network models, and efficient use of power and water are all key features that make this data center a highly compatible and replicable design innovation for the data center industry. Awarded: $9,921,887