When colocation provider Equinix announced that they were trialing fuel cell technology in their data center in Frankford they also brought attention to a provider of fuel cell technology with a much different take on the business than that commonly associated with the technology as it is provided by well-known players such as Bloom Energy.
German fuel cell provider N2telligence builds fuel cell systems that take advantage of the way that fuel cell technology works in order to provide fire prevention technology on appropriately configured datacenters. Their QuattroGeneration fuel cells are designed to reduce the level of oxygen or increase the level of nitrogen in the air in the datacenter. Either technique has the benefit of reducing the chance of fire. The system is self-monitoring and allows the user to set the levels of oxygen appropriate for the environment. This self-monitoring allows for the technique to be applied not to just tightly-sealed rooms but also to locations more open to outside air. The percentage of oxygen available is reduced by the addition of nitrogen-rich air generated by the fuel cell.
The fuel cells can generate sufficient power to operate the data center and run cooling and heating. The Equinix installation, for example, will provide up to 800,000 kW hours of electricity a year, and 600,000 kWh of self-produced heat or cooling capacity.