Daimler aims fuel cells at data centres

November 13, 2017 //By Nick Flaherty
Daimler has teamed up with HP Enterprise (HPE) to use ts automotive fuel cells to power data centres.

Daimler and its subsidiary NuCellSys along with Mercedes-Benz Research and Development North America (MBRDNA) and Daimler Innovations Lab1886 is working with Power Innovations (PI) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in the US to use the latest generation of fuel cells to store and deliver power alongside renewable sources such as solar and wind power.

This follows the opening of a fuel cell-power lab at a data centre in Seattle backed by Siemens.

The company has already gathered experience with hydrogen-powered electric vehicles over several vehicle generations and millions of test kilometres around the world and recently presented the next step with pre-production models of the Mercedes-Benz GLC F‑CELL. HPE and PI, a subsidiary of LiteOn, are developing prototype systems for back-up and continuous power solutions for data centres.

“The maturity of automotive fuel cell systems is unquestioned today. They are ready for everyday use and constitute a viable option for the transportation sector. However, the opportunities for hydrogen beyond the mobility sector – energy, industrial and residential sectors – are versatile and require the development of new strategies. Economies of scale and therefore modularization are important challenges”, said Prof. Dr. Christian Mohrdieck, Fuel Cell Director at Daimler and CEO of Daimler’s subsidiary NuCellSys.

Data centres are some of the largest consumers of power in the new economy, and the growth rate of this power consumption is significant as well. Date centres in the US are projected to consume an estimated 140 billion kWh per year by 2020, equivalent to the annual output of about 50 power plants.Fuel cells rely on an electrochemical reaction like a battery, but, unlike a battery, they have a potentially limitless capability, using excess power from renewable sources to generate the hydrogen that is then used to provide power directly to racks in the data centre when other sources are intermittent.

The idea is to have the basic power supply of the data centre covered by solar power stations and wind