DC power movement gets new charge

Proponents of the idea that safe direct current (DC) power should be more widely used in data centers have formed a new technical committee to encourage the development of standards for data and telecommunications centers. The group is called the EMerge Alliance, and at least one of the newest members of this group will be especially intriguing to IT types, Intel.

Proponents of the idea that safe direct current (DC) power should be more widely used in data centers have formed a new technical committee to encourage the development of standards for data and telecommunications centers. The group is called the EMerge Alliance, and at least one of the newest members of this group will be especially intriguing to IT types, Intel.

The specific project being evangelized by this new technical committee is a 380-volt DC power standard that would be included in hybrid alternating current (AC) and DC platforms. The big problem right now, of course, is that conversions between the two standards make for energy waste and inefficiencies.

Here's a comment from the press release announcing the committee. The comment comes from Guy AlLee, a research scientist with Intel Labs:

"In order to accelerate market adoption of DC power distribution with telco and IT data centers and beyond, we need industry-wide participation to develop a standard that will enable compatibility and interoperability of all parts of the system. The secret to maximizing energy efficiency is to use the highest possible voltage with the fewest number of power conversions while staying with volume components. We're working on solutions that can accomplish both for significant savings in data centers."

The DC vs. AC debate can sometimes take on almost religious fervor, but Intel see both as being important for microgrids in both commercial and industrial settings. Among some of the applications that Intel Labs is testing in New Mexico at its Energy Systems Research Center are photovoltaic applications, energy storage, office lighting technologies and electric vehicle charging platforms.

There are currently 70 members of the EMerge Alliance, including 11 new ones that have gone public with the announcement of this technical committee. Another company whose name you will probably recognize is Emerson Network Power, which is working on power management technologies that span both IT and facilities infrastructure. The other new members are Cooper Industries, DTE Energy, Spear Point Energy, TSM/LEDingEDGE, Verve Living Systems (a subsidiary of Masco), Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Enviro Energy Partners, FSP-Powerland Technology, and the Connected Vehicle Trade Association.

The chair of the new technical will be Dennis Symanski, a senior project manager with EPRI. Some of the work it is doing will be based on a DC-power modular data center at the University of California, San Diego.

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