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Equinix partners NUS to use hydrogen tech in data centres

Continuing its efforts to advance the sustainability of digital infrastructure and reach its climate-neutral targets, Equinix has announced a partnership with the Centre for Energy Research and Technology (CERT) under the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) College of Design and Engineering. 

The partnership will explore technologies that enable the use of hydrogen as a green fuel source for mission-critical data centre infrastructure.

Equinix and CERT will launch the world's first research project to compare the efficiency of proton-exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells and fuel-flexible linear generator technologies. 

PEM fuel cells are a leading contender for hydrogen energy. At the same time, fuel-flexible linear generators enable operators to easily switch between various clean fuel options, including hydrogen, biogas, and renewable liquid fuels. 

Adopting these technologies may allow data centres to reduce carbon emissions while meeting the rising demand for data, co-location and interconnection services.

The research collaboration between Equinix and CERT will involve a holistic assessment of the suitability of these technologies for tropical data centres, considering local climatic conditions, site constraints, power demand, supply chain, fuel storage capabilities, and local regulatory policies.  

This research initiative comes under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed earlier this year between the two partners. 

Under the MOU, CERT will conduct a comprehensive analysis of technologies identified in collaboration with Equinix to determine the operational viability of the technologies at scale. 

Based on the research results, Equinix expects to develop proof-of-concept projects within its global network of data centres for real-world testing and to support incorporation into future data centre designs. 

By driving innovation in Singapore, the Equinix and CERT partnership aims to accelerate disruptive technologies that can reduce the carbon footprint of global data centres, particularly in tropical locations.

Notably, this partnership forms part of Equinix's Future First strategy, underscoring the company's commitment to greening the digital economy. 

Green hydrogen has been identified as a viable source of sustainable energy for data centres. However, hydrogen generation on an industrial scale remains several years away from being commercially viable, making it imperative to assess and adopt alternatives even as global research and development continue.

“Data centres serve as the conduit powering the digital economy, and greening their operations can drive the rise of sustainable business throughout the broader economic landscape. Working with partners like the NUS empowers us advance the growth of digital economies in line with environmental obligations, benefiting the data centre industry, global economies, and the planet," says Yee May Leong, Managing Director, South Asia, Equinix.

Associate Professor Lee Poh Seng, Director, Centre for Energy Research and Technology, NUS College of Design and Engineering, adds, “Sustainability is a key pillar of the global economy. To complement the efforts made by the public sector, timely progress also requires collaboration with stakeholders in the private sector and academia. We are keen to work with industry partners such as Equinix, which provides us access to a global network of data centres. This in turn can serve as a test-bed for a more accurate assessment of operational viability. Through this partnership, we look forward to playing a driving role for green data centre innovations which can be applied in Singapore and globally.”

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