Microsoft Testing Waste-Powered Data Center, R&D Facility

Microsoft gained approval for an 18-month trial of a module data center, Data Plant, using biogas-powered fuel in a wastewater treatment plant in Cheyenne, Wyoming. The $5.5 million-project funded by Microsoft, FuelCell Energy, and the state of Wyoming, aims to prove waste smells sweet savings. It's free energy.

That free energy could power everything from servers processing searches on Bing to ad-serving technology to storage in the cloud. Businesses in the state also will benefit from the clean CO2 produced from this Data Plant.

Wyoming has a large demand for clean CO2 and today a CO2 pipeline intersects the state with expansion projects currently in planning. The Data Plant will go up at the wastewater facility by spring 2013.

Last month, Google gave a virtual look into its data centers "where the Internet lives."



Microsoft hopes the research will give it insight into whether the company can use, resize and perhaps relocate data centers to biogas-producing operations, such as wastewater treatment plants, livestock farms, and landfills.

The data center will consume 200 kilowatts of power for the Data Plant. The sites will be designed to consume waste gasses wherever it's located. Electricity not consumed at the location gets returned to the wastewater treatment plant to minimize any wasted capacity in the system and will provide an additional benefit to the plant as well.

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