Heating from the Cloud: Servers Provide Home Heating

Here’s a novel way to put waste heat to work that I hadn’t heard of until today.

We know that data centers are an essential element of the connected digital world these days, and the need for them is ever increasing. We also know that they consume a lot of electricity, and produce a lot of waste heat as a byproduct. It turns out that are companies in Europe who will install a mini data centers into an office building, or even a home for a fee — and the data centers provide free heating and/or hot water for the building.

An article on the Datacenter Dynamics website discusses a German company called Cloud&Heat which is offering this kind of service for homes and businesses. There’s also a French company called Quarnot which installs electric heaters into homes which look like a normal wall heating unit, but inside are servers carrying out data processing.

From the article about Cloud&Heat:

You pay up front to have a fire-proof cabinet installed. The installation cost is about the same as a conventional heating system, the company says, and it then provides hot water and room heating free of charge. Cloud&Heat pays the Internet and electricity bills for the unit.

[…]

Essentially, Cloud&Heat is eliminating its real-estate costs and some of its hardware expenses. The servers in the cabinets operate unattended – though they may need upgrading every three years or so.

In a similar vein, Amazon is working on a system to heat office buildings in Seattle from waste heat generated by one of its data centers.

As more energy is used to power the increasing number of servers that are installed around the world running out increasingly digital civilization, dealing creatively with waste heat will become more important, and these are interesting examples of how that might be done. I wonder how they deal with data security concerns, however. Who knows what private information is being processed on someone’s living room wall?

As we know here, LENR is a heat-producing technology, and heat management will, I am sure, be a major area of research and development if LENR becomes a common form of energy production.

  • Albert D. Kallal

    The basic configuration of a cloud computing center requires 2 basic commodities:

    Drinking quality water for cooling

    And

    Lots of electricity.

    And the “package” size they settled on is a shipping container full of computers. The shipping container thus has a power connection, an internet connection, and a water connection for cooling. You thus simply drop in more of these “modules” or Lego like building blocks to increase computer capacity. Interesting once again how something the “same” size as a shipping container comes into play and is now being adopted for such cloud centers (this is again due to the available transportation industry). Now where have we heard of people using shipping containers?

    And usually the geographic location for such cloud centers will also play an important part.

    Remember the cloud computing revolution we hear about daily these days is SPECTACULAR different then a data center or what we call hosted computing.

    We had hosted computing for many years now where for example you find someone like GoDaddy to host your web site. However it only been the last few years we started to hear the term cloud computing. Could computing is NOT the same as hosted computing.

    Cloud computing is a major revolution occurring in the computer industry. Such computing should not be confused with “mainframe” or old style “time share” hosted computing systems. While some aspects of these systems are similar, the KEY concept and what drives cloud computing is the ability of such systems to march towards your computing costs being that of the water and electricity required to run such systems.

    Most important is the required cloud computing Operating system. WITHOUT this “high level” so called “fabric” controller, then such cloud operating systems (OS) will not result in cost savings over that of traditional hosted systems.

    A computer is thus viewed like a “lump” of coal in the system. When we transitioned from a local generator to a utility providing your electricity, you would never talk about a “one lump” of coal in that power plant providing your electricity. You are using many lumps of coal to provide your energy and you NEVER think or talk about one lump of coal. You cannot even “think” about one lump of coal being important.

    Cloud computing turns each CPU into a lump of coal on a conceptual basis. This means these lumps OFTEN burn up and fail. This failure rate occurs without any notice to the whole system. In fact they found out running the data center HOTTER then recommended means they save MORE electricity then the cost + rate of CPU’s failing in the system!

    And the output of such systems is as noted simply lots of heat. Capturing that output heat is not much different of a concept then capture waste heat used in any other industrial process.

    Regards,
    Albert

  • Daniel Maris

    Very interesting, though there must be a question mark over security with such a set up…at least I would have thought so.

  • GordonDocherty

    Our local church is very cold – and we hardly use one of the transepts – ideal for housing many servers – add in a couple of floors and it could easily hold 500+ servers – and keep us very warm in the process 🙂

  • Gerard McEk

    An excellent idea. Give me the address and they get some free space in my house! 🙂