09/01/2015 | Modular Data Centers Go Green with Portable Natural Gas Generators
Data center technology has evolved to the point where racks for telecoms and servers are compact enough to fit into spaces the size of a shipping container. Portable natural gas generators can provide the power requirements for these new modular data centers.
A typical modular data center can be mounted on a truck bed, ready to be rapidly set up wherever it is needed, reducing construction and deployment time and cost. More commonly, the power demands of the typical modular data center are small enough to be serviced by the truck’s diesel engine, running a DC current through an AC inverter. While this translates to cost savings for fuel, the noise and emission levels of this practice might discourage enterprise owners from using this solution for modular data centers.
This is where a portable generator that runs on natural gas can be considered as a sustainable alternative to diesel engines. Natural gas is less likely to be contaminated by water and dirt, and it burns cleaner, reducing solid waste emissions. A natural gas generator can take advantage of existing gas lines, eliminating the need for fuel storage that could slow down deployment, a key factor in data center operations. The presence of gas lines ensure that operational disruptions are kept to a minimum. Where gas lines are not available, propane, which is readily available at local stores, may be used instead.
Service maintenance for portable natural gas generators is cheaper and is done less frequently compared to diesel engines, as natural gas does not leave any residue, and the smoother burn translates to less air pollution. In addition, anti-vibration components help avoid server operation disruptions due to loose parts. Finally, the price of natural gas is less susceptible to price fluctuations experienced by petroleum derivatives. All of these factors more than make up for the higher initial investment cost for portable natural gas generators compared to those powered by diesel.
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