Of the total electricity consumption by the United States in 2006, more than 1% was used on data centers alone; a value that continues to rise rapidly. Of the total amount of electricity a data center consumes, about 30% is used to cool server equipment. The present study conceptualizes and analyzes a novel paradigm consisting of integrated power, cooling, and waste heat recovery and upgrade systems that considerably lower the energy footprint of data centers. Thus, on-site power generation equipment is used to supply primary electricity needs of the data center. The microturbine-derived waste heat is recovered to run an absorption chiller that supplies the entire cooling load of the data center, essentially providing the requisite cooling without any additional expenditure of primary energy. Furthermore, the remaining waste heat rejected by the data center is boosted to a higher temperature with a heat transformer, with the upgraded thermal stream serving as an additional output of the data center with negligible additional electrical power input. Such upgraded heat can be used for district heating applications in neighboring residential or commercial buildings, or as process heat for commercial end uses such as laundries, hospitals, and restaurants, depending on the location of the data center. With such a system, the primary energy usage of the data center as a whole can be reduced by up to 23% while still addressing the high-flux cooling loads, in addition to providing a new income stream through the sales of upgraded thermal energy. Given the large and fast-escalating energy consumption patterns of data centers, this novel, integrated approach to electricity and cooling supply, and waste heat recovery and upgrade will substantially reduce primary energy consumption for this important end use worldwide.

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