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10,000 Cows Can Power 1 MW Data Center, says HP Labs

Research from HP Labs shows how the manure output of cows and the heat output of data centers can be combined to create an economically and environmentally sustainable operation
Cows and data centers may seem unnatural partners. However, researchers at HP Labs argue that both entities can be aligned to create a sustainable lifecycle.
– Srikanth RP, InformationWeek, July 01, 2010

HP Labs Farm Waste Power Flow Chart

#1. According to HP Labs, the average dairy cow produces about 55 kg of manure per day, and approximately 20 metric tons per year. The manure that one dairy cow produces in a day can generate 3.0 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electrical energy.

#2. A medium-sized dairy farm with 10,000 cows produces about 200,000 metric tons of manure per year. This farm can fulfill the power requirements of a medium sized 1 megawatt (MW) data center.

 #3. The heat generated by the data center need not be wasted. Instead, it can be used to break down animal waste which results in the production of methane.

#4. Methane can then be used to generate power for the data center.

HP Labs researchers say that this symbiotic relationship allows the waste problems faced by dairy farms and the energy demands of the modern data center to be addressed in a sustainable manner.

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