Microsoft opens data center pilot project run on fuel cells

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Computer data centers that  store things like email and other critical information could one day be run on fuel cell technology.  The goal – to reduce the dependency on the electrical grid.

Microsoft recently unveiled a data center prototype that is completely run on gas from fuel cells.  The pilot project is called the Advanced Energy Lab.

About 20 computers that could potentially store information like pictures, emails, or music, depend on the fuel cells to power them.

At a recent lab unveiling, experts said this could eventually reduce the carbon footprint while making the system more reliable.

"This is a dramatic change compared to what we've done in the past when we were developing data centers which were using a lot of electrical gear, equipment, running AC systems from the grid," said Christian Belady, GM of Data Center Development for Microsoft. "This is actually using gas."

Governor Jay Inslee also attended the event, and says projects like this are vital in the internet-based world we live in.

Developers say they see this technology expanding to critical facilities like hospitals in the near future.

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