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Why Waste Servers' Heat? 204

Posted by timothy
from the because-heat-makes-us-murderous dept.
mikejuk writes "A new paper from Microsoft Research (PDF) suggests a radical but slightly mad scheme for dealing with some of the more basic problems of the data center. Rather than build server farms that produce a lot of waste heat, why not have distributed Data Furnaces, that heat home and offices at the same time as providing cloud computing? This is a serious suggestion and they provide facts and figures to make it all seem viable. So when it gets cold all you have to do is turn up the number crunching ..."
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Why Waste Servers' Heat?

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  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Saturday July 23, 2011 @11:06AM (#36856742) Homepage

    Still, it has always stricken me as peculiar that in the wintertime people spend energy to heat the kitchen up to 20-25 C, and inside it there is a little fridge working as hard as it can to bring the temperature back to exactly the same value as outside. Not to mention that this refrigerator is typically located just next to the electric cooker...

    Convenience and cheap energy. For residential buildings, the money saved generally doesn't amount to enough to support the infrastructure required to transfer and control heat. However, in larger buildings, this sort of thing is rather normal. In theory, you could make smaller units for the house that would take hot air from the refrigerator and dump it into the living room in the winter or preheat the water for the hot water heater, but the ducting involved would either be rather ugly or have to be built in to the house. Wait until heating / cooling gets really expensive, then the savings might justify the hassle.

    The other big problem is that we're not talking about a lot of heat. Put your hands on the back of a modern refrigerator - it's warm, not hot. To move energy with low heat values gets harder (read bigger ducts / fans) and less worthwhile. Put your hands on the exhaust of a city sized natural gas fired thermal power plant and you've got some significant BTUs pumping out - it then becomes worth your while to do something with it.

What the scientists have in their briefcases is terrifying. -- Nikita Khruschev

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