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.